Plan to Dredge Coast Along Belgium Launched

The Belgian government’s integrated coastal safety plan must protect the coastal area in Flanders before 2015 against a devastating super flood that occurs around every 100 years. Due to the constant rise in sea levels (2 mm per annum) eight weak points have been identified along this 67 kilometre coastline which may not be able to resist an extreme storm. In addition to higher embankments, plans have been proposed for the dredging of sea channels and raising of existing sandbanks in an attempt to break the effect of the waves.

At the same time a master plan is required within the next four years to offer a more long-term coastal solution. “The sandbanks to be built in accordance with the coastal safety plan will create small islands. All that remains is to decide how these islands will be utilised. Would it be suitable for marinas or perhaps a site for tidal energy generation? Would a large sandbank along the coastline provide sufficient protection? These are questions that are currently being asked,” says Cybel Buyck, spokesperson for Flemish Minister of Public Works, Hilde Crevits (CD&V). An ambitious plan entitled ‘Vlaamse Baaien 2100’ (Flemish Bays 2100) has been launched by a number of top dredging companies in the industry, including De Nul, Deme and Decloedt.

According to the six participating enterprises the sandbanks could be built up to form islands suited for tourism and natural development, including an ecological compensation area along the west coast and comprising an offshore expansion of the Zeebrugge harbour. Ten concrete projects have so far been submitted for the reclamation and development of 6,000 hectares of land into nature reserves, marinas and yacht harbours, maritime energy generation sites, etc. These islands will not be situated close to the shore, making them hardly visible from the coast. The project is set to cost in the region of one billion euros and Crevits has been criticised for allowing herself to be under the lobbying influence of these dredging companies which are allegedly only out to make money, but according to her spokesperson, Crevits has everything under control. “The minister is quite aware that large sums of money are involved, but our biggest concern is the protection of our coast. We have absolutely no intention of creating a Dubai along the North Sea”, her spokesperson says.


Source: mediargus, July 5, 2010