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Case study sites

Site description

Keywords: Large industrial port

The coastal environment in the general area of the Case Study site is a macro-tidal with sandy beaches. The coastal zone comprises from three main units: (i) a very gently sloping and fine sandy beach, (ii) a dune ridge and (iii) a coastal plain. The area presents a bi-diurnal tide with a small asymmetry and an average tidal range of 4m. The tidal wave moves along the coast from west to east. The tidal range decreases in the same direction by ±0.5m. Spring tides occur twice a month when the tidal variation has reached its maximum (±5m), while for neap tides the tidal range reaches its minimum, i.e. ±3m. Long-lasting intense winds may influence the water level, resulting in extremely low or high water levels. This important tidal range is linked to quite significant tidal currents, which exceeds generally 1.5knots in the near shore areas. Because of the shallow seas and the short fetch, waves are typically short crested. The wave climate is mainly determined by meteorological circumstances, predominantly south westerly winds, and by the shallow depth of the North Sea. Under normal circumstances the waves are lower than 1m. During heavy storms wave heights of over 5m can occur. The wave period is 3 to 4 seconds. Under calm weather conditions, but during storms it can reach 10 to 15 seconds.

The harbour of Zeebrugge consists of 3 parts: (i) the outer port, (ii) the inner port and (iii) the seaport of Bruges. The outer port has been constructed on land reclaimed on the sea and is protected by two breakwaters. The direct access to the sea and the available water depth makes this part of the port appropriate for roll-on/roll-off and container traffic. Also Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessels moor in the outer port. Via the Pierre Vandamme lock and the Visart lock vessels sails towards the inner port. Around the docks of the inner port logistic centres are located for the handling, storage and distribution of mobile vehicles, break-bulk cargoes or food products. The connection with the seaport of Bruges is made through the Baudouin canal. The activities in this part of the port mainly consist of bulk and conventional cargoes. The residential area of Zeebrugge is located in between the harbour docks.

Why was this area selected?

The case study of Zeebrugge, with its large industrial port is of importance for Risc-kit because it will focus on alternative aspects of coastal risk management, namely economical aspects in a large industrial port. The outer port of Zeebrugge is a weak link regarding the area’s coastal protection, as it is not integrated in the masterplan for coastal safety. The protection level of the outer harbour is not known as no flood risk studies of the outer harbour have been performed before.

Land, coastal and marine uses

Keywords: Port, Industry, Natural reserve

As the Case Study site is the (outer) harbour of Zeebrugge, the main uses of the area consist of industrial and economical activities. There is also an area for the maintenance of existing nature values in the seaport, the stern Island, located at the North-East breakwater of the port. In the outer harbour, all areas are indicated as areas for seaport and water related companies. The local infrastructure consists of docks and breakwaters; waterways; railways; roadways; and business and industrial buildings.


Keywords: Marine flood, Erosion, Sea level rise, Wave height increase

The studies foregoing to the Master plan of Coastal Safety, already indicated the inner port and residential areas of Zeebrugge as vulnerable to flooding areas. Flooding is also a hazard for the outer port. Due to climate changes, a sea level rise of 1.67 to 4.4mm per year is expected at the Belgian coast, which will probably alter coastal erosion and sedimentation processes. This could have an increased impact on shipping lanes (displacement of sand, sedimentation, etc.) that will on its turn require more dredging. Other hazards are the increased frequency of severe storms and increasing wave heights, which will affect the economical operations in the outer harbour. These hazards are also related to climate change.

Socio-Economic losses & Environmental Impacts

Keywords: Loss of life, Infrastructure damage, Economical damage

As the case study area is a port, the harbour infrastructure and economy is at risk. Inundation of the harbour can cause damage to harbour infrastructures, to property of the companies and to stored goods with significant related economic losses. Financial losses can also be caused because of limited accessibility of the harbour due to inundations, severe storms or high waves. There is also a risk associated with the safety of the harbour personnel.

Partner in charge

International Marine and Dredging Consultants

Members of the project’s end-users and stakeholders board

Maritime access division of Flanders government, port authority of Zeebrugge

Photo Gallery

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Zeebrugge 1 

Fig.1: View of Westerhoofd, in Zeebuigge, Belgium.

Zeebrugge 2

Fig.2: View of Westerhoofd and Leopold II dam, in Zeebrugge, Belgium.