Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein reach agreement on solution for treating dredged material

09 Feb 2016 17:23 Environment

SH Environment Minister Robert Habeck: “Schleswig-Holstein safeguards the Port of Hamburg’s accessibility.”

KIEL/MALENTE/HAMBURG. Schleswig-Holstein’s state government has declared itself basically willing in the longer term to permit dredged material from the Port of Hamburg to be brought to the silt release area near buoy E3 in the North Sea. The cabinet decided this on 9 February 2016 in Malente. “There is urgent pressure for action. With an excessive accumulation of silt, navigability in the Port of Hamburg is already badly affected. Schleswig-Holstein is accordingly ready to assist Hamburg and to ensure the port’s accessibility. That is also of great importance for Schleswig-Holstein,” stated Robert Habeck, Environment Minister.
To find the least ecologically questionable variants, checks have been conducted on areas in the tidal Elbe, i.e. in the estuary coastal waters off Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein as well as in the Exclusive Economic Zone (AWZ). “From the technical perspective, the silt dumping area in the North Sea has emerged as the most sustainable and ecologically compatible solution,” said Habeck. The area so far in use there – near Buoy E3 – is about 60 kilometres off the West coast.
Deposit of the sediments at the silt deposit area is conditional on all environmental requirements being met. “We shall pay strict attention to that.” The administrative process will embrace not only bodies representing the public interest, but also others from the environmental, fishery and tourism sectors on a voluntary basis.
Keynote paper provides for steps towards reducing volumes of dredged matter
In addition, a joint keynote paper from both states lays down important steps towards a sustained reduction of the quantity of sediment occurring. “We shall develop and implement river engineering measures to make a sustained reduction in the volume of dredged material,” said Senator Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics. Hamburg will also support and finance measures for removing harmful substances.
In addition, the Hanseatic City will make voluntary payments to the Schleswig-Holstein National Park Foundation towards protecting the tidelands or Wattenmeer. “We have therefore set in motion a sensible overall solution. In particular, this takes up the findings of the large-scale Dialogue Forum on the Tidal Elbe. Hamburg is now obliged to initiate and implement the resultant measures,” declared Habeck.
Senator Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics, emphasized: “The seaward accessibility of the Port of Hamburg is vitally important for the whole of Northern Germany and far beyond. Along with the region, last year we gave intense consideration to the various options for dumping dredged material. Now we are very happy and relieved about the political agreement with Schleswig-Holstein on bringing Hamburg sediment to Buoy E3. We should like to express our warmest thanks to our neighbours for this.”
Horch added that the new agreement will contribute to the ability to maintain water levels in the Port of Hamburg Hafen on a reliable long-term basis. “The sediments that Hamburg wants to release near Buoy E3 will fulfil Schleswig-Holstein’s environmental requirements.” This will be supervised by an extensive monitoring programme in the North Sea and on the coasts.
Keynote points in the agreement:
  • Legal authorizations are initially to apply for five years. Dumping can be effected throughout the year.
  • The agreement will be supervised by an intensive and coordinated environmental monitoring programme. The findings will be made available to the public.
  • Hamburg declared itself willing to remit 5 euros per ton of dredged material – dry weight, corresponding to approx. 2.5 euros per cubic metre of hold volume – to the National Park Foundation. That is marginally more than has been paid since 2013. Some of the money can in future be used for improving the sustainability of prawn fishing as well as for economically significant nature tourism projects on the West coast.
  • The aim is to implement those measures that are accepted in the region, and seen by the estuary partnership now founded as especially suitable for reducing sediment by 2030. 

In the Port of Hamburg, as in every port in a tidal area, currents cause an accumulation of sediment so that regular dredging is essential for maintaining the water levels needed by shipping. Against this background, in 2005 and 2008 Schleswig-Holstein granted permission for Hamburg to bring Elbe sediment to Buoy E3. In 2013 authorization was extended, for the first time conditional on reciprocal measures on Hamburg’s part, i.e. the financing of the National Park Foundation. The maximum volume of 6.5 million cubic metres set in 2008 has meanwhile almost been exhausted. 

Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein reach agreement on solution for treating dredged material

Press contact

Nicola Kabel
Ministry of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Areas (Schleswig-Holstein) 
Mercatorstr. 3, 24106 Kiel 
Tel: 0431 988-7201
Fax: 0431 988-7137

Susanne Meinecke 
Departmental Authority of Economics, Traffic and Innovation (Hamburg) 
+49 40 42841 2239