Dutch coast superstorm proof for next 50 years

The Netherlands has just completed new sea defences rendering its coast superstorm proof for the next 50 years. The last 10-kilometre stretch of coast to be protected lies in Zeeland. Work on strengthening the Netherlands largely dune coast began in 2009.

Superstorm proof coastal defences

Superstorm proof coastal defences

Image: ANP

Climate change means rising sea levels and living in a low-lying country, the Dutch are particularly at risk. Storm surges in 1953 caused devastating loss of life in the province of Zeeland. Thanks to Dutch ingenuity and innovation the country has more or less kept its feet dry since then.  
However, in spite of its dikes and delta works the country faces new challenges in the future. And in response to these challenges sea defences have been strengthened in ten locations along the coast.

“Safer than ever”

As sea temperatures increase, sea levels rise. The chance of a storm surge is once every 100 years. This may sound low but the cost of the material damage can reach as high as 100 billion euros. Not to mention the human cost in lives. In 2003, the Dutch government investigated where the weakest links were in its coastal defences. “Now the dune coastline is superstorm proof and safer than ever before.” says Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen.

New marina

At the same time, the new sea defences are boosting the local economy and tourism in demographically challenged areas. For instance, the municipality of Sluis took advantage of the Flood Protection Programme to strengthen its coastal defences to make the seaside resort Cadzand-Bad more attractive. Here two breakwaters were constructed from X-blocks which use less material therefore keeping costs down and a public-private partnership built a marina between the two breakwaters.

The whole project cost a total of 606 million euros, which is 45 million euros below budget according to the ministry.

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