News - July 10, 2020

New episode in Nergena solar park soap

Roelof Kleis

The soap surrounding the WUR solar park at Nergena continues. The Ede city council failed to achieve a final vote last night.

The intended location of the solar park on Dijkgraaf. © Roelof Kleis

A new vote was needed after the votes were tied with 19 in favour and 19 opposed last week. This outcome was the result of council member Bram van de Beek (Christen Unie) abstaining. He works at LC Energy, initiator and operator of the solar park. Van der Beek abstained to avoid any semblance of conflict of interest.

Conflict of interest
The rules stipulate that this requires a revote. The proposal was submitted for a revote last night, the last council meeting before the summer break. However, the plan was removed from the agenda at the request of the SGP, because Van der Beek may wish to vote after all. In inquiry must now determine whether this is permitted, given the possible conflict of interests.

In wishing to be extremely principled, am I not achieving the exact opposite?
Bram van der Beek, council member for the ChristenUnie, Ede municipality

Van der Beek explained his change of heart by referring to a statement from Mayor Verhulst that the administrative integrity is not under threat in this case. ‘I asked myself: in wishing to be extremely principled, am I not achieving the exact opposite? How principled am I, in wanting to retract from my civic duty as a council member to cast my vote without just cause?’

The mayor and aldermen called the postponement ‘undesirable’. Regardless, the majority of the council agreed to postpone the vote. There will now be an investigation to determine whether Van der Beek can, indeed, vote. The issue will be brought to the table for the third time after the summer, and, if Van der Beek is permitted to vote, the solar park will finally be started up.

This would be excellent news for WUR. Nergena is an important part of WUR research on new concepts to build ecologically sound and sustainable solar parks. Recently, 3.6 million euros in funding was obtained from the National service for Entrepreneurial Netherlands. The Nergena testing park will span 10 hectares.