For the Marine Spatial Plan of 2020-2026, the Federal Government of Belgium approved a proposal for an island in front of the coast of Zeebrugge and Knokke-Heist.
SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION
There were rumors that this plan would also create some kind of canal for fluvial shipping along the coastline which would be destructive for the local tourism sector and the local economy. The concerned ministers promote it as a test island to “protect the coast” for the 1000 year storm.
A public consultation on this project has been launched at the end of 2018, and afterward, Secretary of State Philippe De Backer has removed the test island off the coast of Knokke-Heist from the Marine Spatial Plan (MRP). The federal government approved the final MRP 2020-2026 on Friday 7 December 2018. The possibility to build a test island off the coast of Knokke-Heist was removed from the plan, as requested by the municipality.
The memorandum on alternatives will be presented on 23 January to the stakeholder group chaired by the governor of the province of West Flanders. The bill itself will probably not end in February or March. However, if a public consultation is launched to validate the project of an island, we will take further action. Minister Weyts, however, continues to believe that ultimately an island will be the best solution to counter the rise of marine style.
Our Defenders are from the Surfrider Belgian Coast Chapter, notably Peter and Antoine (Antoine was elected in the board of the local government).
Obviously, this will affect water quality, surfing and water sports conditions. A Dutch engineering firm has evaluated the proposal also and marked it as non-viable.
The problem is a lack of transparency in this project. The government approved a plan for a project proposal, not yet the project itself. Now we are waiting for a final legal decision on this issue.
The common goal is for this island not to be put in place. The current mobilization focuses on getting this proposal out of the MSP, which would be the first goal. However if a public consultation is launched to validate the project of an island, we will take further action.