The programme involves dredging at eleven places (the so-called sills) and the first phase involves the deepening of the Zandvliet sill. In addition, a turning zone is to be created and the navigation channel widened by up to 370 m between the Europaterminal and 500 m upstream of Deurganckdok. However, environmental permits have to be obtained before works can commence and these are expected in October 2008.
Once the entire programme is completed (currently scheduled for end 2009), it will provide a tide-independent access to the Port of Antwerp’s Deurganckdok by container vessels up to 12.000 teu capacity.
Euro 42m has been reserved for carrying out the dredging work in 2007 and around Euro 58m will be reserved in 2008 for the subsequent work.
Maritime access to Flemish seaports is seen as being one of the most important policy priorities of the Flemish government with the widening and deepening of the navigation channel in the Westerschelde is necessary for the competitive position of the port of Antwerp.