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Dutch government backs port plan

A €2.9bn expansion of Rotterdam Port involving extensive foundation works moved closer in October when the project was approved by the Netherlands parliament.

The scheme, known as Maasvlakte 2, will extend the port westwards by 1000ha by reclaiming land from the North Sea and building coastal defences that include a 4km dyke and manmade dunes. Work is expected to start onsite in 2008.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority has started negotiations with two construction consortia - a joint venture of Boskalis and Van Oord of the Netherlands and Jan de Nul and Dredging International of Belgium.

A Port Authority spokesman said details of foundations for the new port infrastructure were still under discussion with the shortlisted contractors. Discussions would also determine whether the work will be let as one package or split into several, including a land reclamation contract and a package for the quay walls. ‘It might be cheaper if we do it as one big contract, ’ he said.

The contract is expected to be awarded in spring 2007 with construction not getting under way until stringent environmental approvals, for air quality for example, are given. This is expected to ensure that any plant used as part of the works has cleaner engines.

But the spokesman added that environmental impact reports for the construction and use of Maasvlakte 2 will be completed by the beginning of 2007 and that permission had already been gained to dredge sand at several locations in the North Sea for the land reclamation.

‘There are several locations where we have got planning permission to dredge the 400M. m3 of sand needed from the North Sea. We have the green light to start on the next phase but before that there are a number of spatial planning and licensing procedures that must be completed before actual construction can get underway in 2008, ’ he said.

The Port Authority already has €726M of funding from the Dutch government and will issue new shares to raise another e500M. The remaining e1.6bn will be raised on the nancial markets.

Work on Maasvlakte 2 is scheduled to complete in 2013.

In the short term, work will continue on two new terminals at the existing port. This will include the feeder barge terminal, adding 800m of new quayside, for which the port has just been awarded a €100M loan from the European Investment Bank. Work is also continuing on the Euromax terminal under construction by Dutch firm BAM.

Both projects are expected to be ready by 2008.

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