The Afsluitdijk Integrated Improvement Study steering group has asked the consortium consisting of engineering consultancy DHV, knowledge institute Wageningen IMARES, and the design-office Alle Hosper to further develop its vision for the Dutch Closure Dike (Afsluitdijk). In this way, a further step has been taken toward a safe Afsluitdijk, with a new natural area and new recreational opportunities.
The consortium's ideas will now be worked out in further detail to form an integrated proposal. This will be used in the recommendations to be presented in early 2009 to the State Secretary for Transport, Public Works, and Water Management, Tineke Huizinga. The dike has to be adjusted to continue meeting safety standards into the future.
According to the (Nijpels) Afsluitdijk Advisory Commission, the "Salt Marshes" proposal of DHV-IMARES-Hosper is "the best vision in terms of its completeness and the strength of its incorporation of all of the criteria." To which DHV's Marjan den Braber, the spokesperson for the consortium, responded: "We are very proud of this assessment and we are proceeding with our work very ambitiously. We are going to concentrate on the further development of the plans, during which we will also be looking closely at the integration of other functions, including the exploitation of renewable energy."
Building with nature
Building with nature is central to the "Salt Marshes" vision. The consortium calls for the establishment of 1,500 hectares of new natural area in the form of salt marshes. These are overgrown high-sands, the top parts of which are submerged during spring tide. The growth of the salt marshes accompanies that of the sea level, so that they form a sustainable foreshore, which serves to dampen the waves. Apart from this, the area created can be used to develop nature and recreational opportunities. The recent Dutch Delta Committee recommendations also call for the incorporation of more natural processes to ensure the safety of the Netherlands.
Under commission from Ms Huizinga, State Secretary for Transport, Public Works, and Water Management, the Dutch Directorate for Public Works and Water Management is exploring the Afsluitdijk's future with the provinces of Friesland and North-Holland, as well as the municipalities of Wieringen and Wûnseradiel. Eight consortia submitted their plans for a future vision for the Afsluitdijk - now four of these consortia have been asked to develop their visions in more detail.