Pallas chief executive officer Hermen van der Lugt said the decision was “a magnificent step in the right direction”. He said it means the zoning scheme is final and the foundation overseeing the Pallas project can proceed with applications for licences needed for construction.
In October 2017 Pallas filed a request for a change to the zoning scheme. The change concerned enlarging the existing nuclear zone and increasing the maximum allowed construction height.
Four separate appeals were lodged against the changes. One was judged unfounded and another was withdrawn. The remaining appeals, lodged by local residents and an environmental group for the protection of Petten’s sand dunes, said the reactor would affect both scenery and environment, partly as a result of nitrogen emissions. They said ecological investigations into the impact were incomplete.
The Council of State ruled that the reactor will not have a significant negative impact on the environment. It said Petten is an industrial zone and there is no need to explore alternative locations.
Pallas will replace the existing High Flux Reactor (HFR) at Petten, 50 km north of Amsterdam. The HFR is almost 60 years old.
In 2012, to guarantee the long-term reliable supply of isotopes, the Dutch government decided to replace the HFR.
The Pallas organisation was founded in December 2013 to design and construct the reactor. Its remit also included developing a business case and arranging private financing for the construction and commissioning phase of the new unit.
Pallas will play a crucial role in the supply chain for radiopharmaceutical products worldwide and in nuclear technology research. Isotopes produced at the reactor will be used to treat millions of people with cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In European hospitals, 70% of isotopes used for diagnostic procedures and treatment originate from the HFR. Globally, this percentage is approximately 30% and in the Netherlands it is as high as 80%.