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Three-metre rise in sea level part of scenarios mapped out for coast

17:35 30/11/2020
From Flanders Today

To protect the coastline and surrounding areas from rising sea levels, the government of Flanders is exploring what needs to be done to ensure long-term safety for citizens, the economy and the environment. They are mapping all the possibilities, and a public consultation will be held in 2021.

Flanders’ coastline and the low-lying land behind it are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change because of dense construction and the intensive use of the coast. The Coast Vision project is investigating the best approach for long-term protection, providing an adaptable system that could withstand a potential sea-level rise of up to three metres by 2100.

Investigators will explore where the coastline of the future should lie and what space should be demarcated for protection measures. The coastline could shift slightly towards the dunes, could remain where it is, or could shift further seaward.

Each location requires different measures that take into account the possible consequences of the sea-level rise at different points.

“The rising sea level is an extra challenge in continuing to protect our coast and guarantee the safety of the population,” said public works minister Lydia Peeters. “We are currently in the research phase where various alternatives are being investigated. Consultation and participation are very important in this procedure with a view to broad support.”

This summer, various concerned parties were questioned to gain insight into the possible impact of solutions for their sector. Discussions took place on issues including housing, recreation and tourism, logistics and energy, fisheries and the blue economy, heritage, drinking water, agriculture, ecological systems and nature.

Taking this input into account, alternatives are now being drawn up for the full length of the coast. These will be collated in a paper describing each of the options and how the possible effects on the environment, society and economy will be assessed.

A further consultation with local authorities and mayors of coastal cities began this week. The results of these discussions will be contained in a final report that will form the basis of a public consultation in the spring before a decision is made.

The existing coastal safety masterplan, launched in 2011, was drawn up to ensure protection against flooding in the coastal region until 2050. This was based on a moderate climate-change scenario with a projected sea-level rise of 80 centimetres by 2100. The Coast Vision project looks further ahead and investigates the additional measures needed.

Photo ©Kurt Desplenter/BELGA

Written by Sally Tipper (Flanders Today)