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The chronological analysis of Kruibeke, Bazel, Rupelmonde project implementation: 4 stages

Design

Stage

Project objective(s)

Integration of socio-economic and nature goals

Use of nature dynamics and ecosystem

Improvement of ecosystem potential

Outcome of implementation

I.

1977-1991

Flood security

0

+

0

None

II.

1992-1999

Flood security
Nature

+

++

++

Opposition

III.

2000-2002

Flood security
Nature as compensation for the project of overriding public interest

++

+

+

Forced cooperation

IV.

2003-2010

Flood security
Nature as compensation for the project of overriding public interest
Local stakeholder involvement

+++

+

+

Cooperation

  • Natura 2000 can be used to link different stakeholder interest (e.g. overriding economic interest of harbour development with nature and flood defence)

The most obvious role of the EU Natura 2000 was in linking the flood defence project (Kruibeke, Bazel, Rupelmonde) to the project of overriding public interest (Deurganck dock). This link moved project implementation from opposition into a forced cooperation stage. The next move to a cooperation stage was the initiative of the implementer, but to some extent was made possible by the compensation requirements for the meadow birds, which offered an opportunity to introduce maintenance contracts by farmers. This would not be possible under design II, which relied on nature dynamics for maintenance.

  • Gradual progression towards BwN --type projects can be traced in project chronology   

Design IV, which will be implemented, combines the most project objectives compared with previous designs: flood security, ecology, economy (via Deurganck dock) and local stakeholder interests (partly economic).  It reflects a gradual progression of project objectives over the years: in terms of flood security, design I would be sufficient. In terms of ecology, the most optimal (dynamic and naturally maintained ecosystem) would be design II. In terms of economy, Deurganck dock would rather be realized without extra costs for compensation (without design III) and legal fights. The biggest local stakeholder, the farmers of Kruibeke, would opt for no flood control area at all, because even with the maintenance measures in place they suffer net economic loss. However, none of these designs could be implemented: authorities were cautious to proceed with design I, design II faced opposition, Deurganck dock faced a legal battle and no flood control area wasn’t an option given flood security risk. The flood control area thus evolved towards a design balance among the interests of flood defence, ecology, economy and local stakeholder interests.

  • Interaction with the stakeholders in the project area (private and non-profit) early in the decision making process can generate new opportunities and combinations of activities (e.g. flood defence, nature, agriculture)

As for the relationship between Natura 2000 and project design, it should be noted that project design already resembled Building with Nature before the effects of the Bird and Habitat Directives were put into place. Natura 2000 then linked the project of overriding economic interest in Antwerp with less visible flood security and nature project in Kruibeke, thereby forcing more cooperative interaction among the stakeholders.  This cooperative interaction led to creative solutions and new opportunities, such as the combination of nature and agricultural activities in the area, which would otherwise be left unnoticed or considered hardly possible. Hence Natura 2000 does, albeit indirectly, encourage more integration of societal and ecological goals on a project level, which could take a form of a Building with Nature project.

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