Work on deepening the navigation channel in the Western Scheldt will now be able to actually start on the Dutch side. Flanders has already completed the work on its side of the border within the agreed time limit. The Netherlands has until now remained in default, since under the terms of the Scheldt Treaties the work should have been finished by the end of2009.
According to the Antwerp port community, this deepening of the navigation channel will enable Antwerp to defend its position as Europe’s second-largest port, in the face of competition from Rotterdam and Hamburg.
The benefits of the deeper channel will be reinforced by the new upstream and downstream navigation regulations for the Western Scheldt, introduced by the Permanent Commission for Supervision of Scheldt Navigation in December 2009. The new regulations permit the largest container ships to reach the port of Antwerp in a safe manner even more easily. This easier access is one of the key elements of the Total Plan for a more competitive port being developed by the Antwerp public and private port community.
The port of Antwerp has long pleaded for deepening of the Scheldt, so as to permit tide independent navigation by ships with a draught of up to 13.1 m (43 ft). Once the deepening work has been completed, seven out of ten ships that are currently tide dependent will be able to reach the port of Antwerp without tide constraints.