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            january 22, 2020

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Deepening of the Elbe channel to be reconsidered from October


The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) and Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Hamburg
(WSD) [Hamburg Water and Navigation Office], the two project developers
involved, have applied to the planning authorities for a reconsideration of their
revised plans for the deepening of the Elbe channel. The modified documents will
be available for public inspection in districts bordering both sides of the Elbe
from 7 October to 6 November 2008. Objections and position statements in
relation to the proposals can be submitted up to 20 November 2008. This marks
the beginning of the next important phase of the proceedings.
The proposed deepening of the fairway of the Lower and Outer Elbe is aimed at allowing
container ships with a maximum draught of up to 14.5 metres, such as are increasingly
coming to be used today, unhindered access to and from the Port of Hamburg.
Planning permission was applied for as long ago as March of last year, and attracted a
great deal of attention – not least because of the many objections raised. The Federal
Waterways Administration Authority and the City of Hamburg conscientiously looked into
concerns about dike safety and ecological criticisms of the proposed deepening of the
Elbe. At the same time intensive talks were carried on with authorities and associations
in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein that are responsible for dike safety
and natural conservation.
In response to these concerns, the developers have now modified their project. The
changes relate to a whole series of details of the execution of the fairway adaptation, for
the most part having to do with the way in which the dredged materials are disposed of.
To mention just one example, dredged materials will no longer be piled up against the
north bank of the Elbe as originally planned. Taking all the planning changes into
account, moreover, studies of the ecological implications of the deepening of the
channel have been supplemented or revised.
Hamburg's Senator for Economy and Labour, Axel Gedaschko, comments: 'From
our point of view, the dialogue with all the parties concerned has minimised the conflict
potential of the situation. Talks will continue into the next phase of the proceedings. This
is the only way in which the application for planning permission can be brought to a
positive conclusion, giving users of the port the planning security that is called for. The
adaptation of the fairway is not just in Hamburg's interest – in the last resort, the whole
region stands to benefit.'
The duration of the proceedings cannot be predicted exactly at this stage. Following
reconsideration of the modified plans, public hearings will be held – probably in the first
quarter of next year. Supposing that permission is then granted according to plan,
dredging operations might be able to start before the end of 2009. The work is expected
to take something like 21 months. Shipping may however be able to benefit from a
deeper channel just a few months after the start of the project.

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