State of Lower Saxony assents to adjustment of navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe

Two large container ships on the River Elbe
Two large container ships on the River Elbe

The cabinet decision taken in Lower Saxony on Tuesday, 3 April 2012, means that the required assent from the three states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony for the adjustment of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe has now been received. Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics, Transport and Innovation, commented: “It was only right to take time to arrive at a fair reconciliation of the different interests. The decision by the cabinet in Lower Saxony demonstrates not only that adjustment of the navigational channel involves a whole series of advantages for Lower Saxony, but also that an excellent compromise has been found with regard to the feared disadvantages. This satisfactory outcome means that the official approval procedure can now be completed.” Those responsible for granting planning approval at the Waterways and Shipping Directorate (WSD) North and in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg will now be incorporating the results of the negotiations into the planning approval that currently exists only in draft form, and will then produce the final planning approval document. The procedure also provides for the planning approval along with the supporting documents to be displayed for scrutiny in the communities affected along the Elbe at the end of May, following an appropriate public announcement.

Claudia Roller, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, is delighted by the assent to the adjustment of the navigation channel now received from the neighbouring state of Lower Saxony: “For the Port of Hamburg, the whole economic region and our worldwide customers and partners in shipping, trade, industry and logistics, this assent from Lower Saxony to the adjustment of the navigation channel is a very satisfactory decision. We are now looking to the speedy realization of this infrastructural measure and hoping that the first stages in construction can be commenced before the end of this year. That will only be feasible, however, provided that any possible objections do not lead to any further delay to the deepening of the navigation channel on the Lower and Outer Elbe.” Given the significance of the deepening of the navigation channel, the German Administrative Court in Leipzig will in the first and final instances be responsible for hearing any possible objections. The period for lodging these runs for four weeks from the date of display of draft final approval, i.e. most probably until the end of June.

Against the background of the 894 ultra-large vessels (AGF) handled in Hamburg during 2011 the adjustment of the shipping channels in the Lower and Outer Elbe is one of the most important development projects for the Port of Hamburg in 2012. This will ensure that the largest containerships and bulk carriers continue to reach Hamburg in the future. After completion, ships with a draft up to 13.80 meters will be able to leave the Port of Hamburg independent of the tides and up to 14.80 meters dependent on the tides.

To limit the effects of the channel adjustment on the flora and fauna and the surrounding environment as much as possible, an engineering concept has been developed enabling the hydrological and therefore the ecological consequences to be considerably minimized. Numerous measures will be adopted to completely compensate for any remaining ecological effects.