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Deepened Scheldt channel to open Antwerp for huge ships

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ANTWERP – Dutch and Flemish officials recently officially gave the go-ahead at aspecial ceremony in Europe’s second largest port for the much-delayed round of dredging in the Western Scheldt channel which links Antwerp with the North Sea. Flanders already has completed dredging the river in its own territory. The Belgian port wants to accommodate the largest container ships that ply the oceans but needs the cooperation of the Dutch authorities, since the access channel to Antwerp runs through the Netherlands. Dutch authorities had agreed to carry out the work of deepening the shipping channel from the current 11.9 to 13.1 metres but faced strenuous opposition from environmentalists and other nature advocates who exhaustively used every legal tool to stop the project. One of the criteria calls for nature compensation, which now will have authorities – under strenuous objection from the Zeeland citizenry – return the Hertogin Hedwigepolder, located on the banks of the Scheldt near Antwerp, to nature. The highly sensitive plan calls for the dike to be cut so the land will become subject to tidal fluctuations. The dredging will be completed this year.