When Port and City Development Go Hand-In-Hand
Toward the end of this last century the Dutch port of Rotterdam was facing an urgent need to expand. How this city port, the world’s 3rd largest and Europe’s biggest, tackled the many complex economic, environmental, and social challenges confronting this ambitious expansion, is a model for sustainable port development.
For the port to maintain its competitive edge, more space was needed for new companies and existing clients to expand. This is where the Dutch government stepped in with the decision to strengthen the Mainport Rotterdam. However, in order to be sustainable the port design approach would need a balance between its economic ambitions, nature, and the environment and living environment – an eco-based port design. For this the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project (PMR) was established.
The port and the city are not two separate entities, but are interdependent, overlapping, and influence each other. Working together in a collaboration of stakeholders, the PMR comprised a series of sub-projects to better utilise the port area and improve the living environment quality of the region. This included the Maasvlakte 2, which involved the construction of the new port in association with environmental implementation to compensate for damage to protected nature, the development of 750 hectares of new nature and recreational areas, and existing Rotterdam area.
To achieve its ambition, the Port of Rotterdam Authority was open to innovative technologies leading to the sustainable and successful development of the new port. It set strict requirements to terms of sustainability for companies wishing to locate on Maasvlakte 2. This involved agreements on air quality, noise and cleaner hinterland transport, but also about the efficient use, and reuse, of energy, waste materials and semi-manufactured products. Companies had to recognise the need to tackle environmental problems and to pursue new forms of sustainable management. In addition, they had to work toward achieving greater efficiency. With Maasvlakte 2, the port of Rotterdam Authority became a global leader in the field of sustainability, and a showcase demonstrating how sustainability and economic growth are compatible.
Today the Rotterdam port remains one of the most advanced in the world, a behemoth, stretching 40 km long and 10 km wide, accommodating more than 30,000 oceangoing ships and 130,000 river ships each year. It has 2,000 hectares of basins for a total of 10,500 hectares, including warehousing and industrial areas. The Maasvlakte 2 container terminals are the most modern and advance in the world. They are fully electric, from the Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to the quay cranes. The terminals of APM Terminals runs entirely on power generated by wind turbines.
Rotterdam port has a long tradition in applying advanced technologies and processes, of which there are many examples, making it the most innovative and sustainable port in the world. But moreover it is an important part of the living environment and place where unlimited ambitions can become reality.