North Sea Port is dredging the Wielingen rise to make the port more easily accessible

Published on Thu 15 Feb 2018
At the end of December 2017, North Sea Port has started dredging the rises in the Wielingen area of navigation off the Dutch coast. Consequently, the Flushing port area will be accessible to vessels having a draught up to 17 metres from the end of February onwards.

By removing those rises, the access to the Vlissingen-Oost port area for vessels having a draught of up to 16.5 metres will be guaranteed. Moreover, the sailing chances for vessels having a draught of 17 metres will strongly improve.

As a matter of fact, deep-lying vessels for Vlissingen-Oost regularly have had to cope with delays for years already. When the tide is not high enough, there are literally thresholds in the way off the Wielingen in front of the coast of Zeeland Flanders. Deep-lying vessels (capesizers) carrying cargo on board for the companies are then not able to pass these rises in the fairway. They have to lie in wait at sea or move to other ports. It also happens that vessels sail to the Vlissingen port area not fully loaded, which does not benefit sustainability.

More certainty for shipping and companies

After the dredging works, the port area of Vlissingen-Oost will be better accessible to deep-lying vessels and it will be possible to reduce waiting times to a minimum. The companies will be able to plan the reception and handling of deep-lying vessels with a lot more certainty. As such, the competitiveness of the port companies and of North Sea Port will strongly improve. A better approachability will also be of benefit to the regional economy and to employment. This improvement of approachability and accessibility has been the object of talks for more than a decade. As a matter of fact, a lot of deliberations with trade and industry and with environmental organisations preceded this. Moreover, these dredging works fit in the ‘Ambition 2030’ programme in which economic and ecological development go hand in hand.

Fairway of 180 metres wide

The present fairway at sea from and to the Vlissingen port area has a width of 500 metres. The works consist of the laying of what is called a ‘made-to-measure channel’. Instead of completely removing the shallows in the fairway over the entire width, the fairway will be tackled ‘to size’ over a width of 180 metres. The dredging spoil will be dispersed a few kilometres further on in a deeper part. Because of this innovative approach, only 600,000 m³ of spoil have to be moved. This can be compared to two football pitches full of spoil up to 60 metres high. The works will cost 2.5 million euros. The Dutch State will contribute half of this sum. It is assumed that by the end of February the dredging works will be finished.