Hamburg Dredging Illegal?


A proposed dredging project that would allow the new generation of mega ships to reach the Port of Hamburg has been found to be in breach of court laws.

Hamburg’s plans to widen the river Elbe in Hamburg would allow large container ships (18,000 TEU and upwards) to reach the country’s largest port regardless of tides. The project is seen as a response to direct competition from Rotterdam, Antwerp and Bremhaven.

However, environmental groups NABU and BUND lodged a formal complaint, citing that the dredging project would have devastating environmental repercussions, as large quantities of mud and sand would be dumped on fragile coastal wetlands.

On Thursday, February 9, an administrative court in Germany found that the project is partly in breach of the environmental law. Despite this, the court ruled that the river will be allowed to be dredged for a seventh time, if the plans are altered to fully ensure the safety of the marine ecosystem.

The city of Hamburg and federal waterways plan to dredge 130 km of river. Currently, larger ships often have to endure long waiting periods to access the port. There had been worries that some shipping lines would seek access to alternate ports if the Elbe deepening project did not go ahead. 

In related news, the Hamburg Port Authority are currently offering huge prizes for the contribution of ideas to their new Steinwerder-Süd development project.

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