Hamburg dredging will start, after 17 years’ planning

Opponents of the planned increase in the draught size of Hamburg port on the River Elbe has said that they will not pursue an emergency stay, although they would continue to oppose the process by all legal means.

The German Nature Conservation Union (NABU) and its partner organizations said that they would be filing an appeal with the Federal Administrative Court of Germany in a new attempt to block the dredging program.

NABU chairman Alexander Porschke said that the decision not to seek a stay was a difficult choice, but the odds of succeeding in court and obtaining one were low.

The pace of the German legal process meant that the appeals process could take many years, but during that time the port should be able to make considerable physical progress on the project.

Hamburg has said that it will soon be issuing tenders for dredging and that work was likely to begin in March.

Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs Frank Horch said that “the Port of Hamburg is and will remain a central economic engine, creating more than 150,000 jobs here in northern Germany alone. Even if the dispute continues now, it is my conviction that we have long since found a good balance between economic and environmental interests.”

Hamburg received regulatory approval to move forward with the €600m development in August. It will add 2.4 meters of depth to the port’s approach channel. This would be enough for large container ships to transit with about 1,800 TEU more on board than they can carry today.

The dredging will also create a wide passing box where inbound and outbound ULCVs will be able to pass each other, thus improving traffic flow. Completion is expected in 2020.

Hamburg has been losing container traffic to its competitors due to the inability of ULCVs to access its terminals while fully laden.