Assessing Socio-Economic Effects of Land Reclamation

Whilst land reclamation receives increasing attention as a feasible urban solution for coastal development, conclusions on the social and economic effects of reclamation projects are not clear, stated International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC) in its latest publication.

A straightforward evaluation of these impacts is not easy to achieve, mostly because effects are wide ranging, heterogeneous and difficult to measure in the long term. A comprehensive assessment of different welfare effects can however be fostered based on specific appraisal techniques.

Following a cost-benefit analysis approach, this IADC article illustrates a framework for the evaluation of reclamation projects. It addresses the most important elements to consider in project appraisal, offers an overview of the different types of effects generally recognizable and shows how an integrated monetary valuation of the project can eventually be estimated.

Two case studies are then analysed using the proposed model: a port development project (Maasvlakte 2, Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and a beach reclamation project (Amager Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark).

The core conclusion drawn from the case studies is that reclamation projects may cause relevant impacts also outside the sector for which they are specifically implemented. In many cases, economic, strategic, environmental and other social effects directly or indirectly related to reclamation projects are substantial.

The report indicates that a thorough identification and measurement of project effects is fundamental for clarifying the comparative advantages that reclamation offers with respect to alternative spatial-development plans.

Comprehensive and consistent evaluation of the impacts on society can contribute to better consideration of reclamation as an urban solution and an investment opportunity for both private and public stakeholders.

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