Works for the deepening of the river Elbe, Germany, have officially started. The federal transport minister Andreas Scheuer and the federal river authority officiated the works with a cruise around the area that will be deepened over the next two years. According to the port of Hamburg, the project will enable three additional million of containers to be handled at Germany’s biggest port, Hamburg.
This will be made possible by deepening the river so that ships with a draught of 13.5 m – or 14.5 m – at high tide will be able to pass through the river that leads to the port of Hamburg. In addition, the area around Wedel will be widened to 385 m to enable two container ships to pass through the river simultaneously, doubling capacity.
Preparatory works have been underway since the beginning of the year with the seabed being prepared to accommodate and store the dredged material. It is estimated that around 40 million m3 will be dredged and reused.
Costs for the disputed project will be around Euro780 million. Environmental groups have fought against the deepening for more than ten years, citing the potential damage to the wild life as main reason for their protest. Due to their engagement, sustainable work practices have been incorporated into the contract. Local politician, environment minister for lower saxony, Olaf Lies, also criticised the project, saying that with the Jade-Weser port in Wilhelmshaven, the deepening of the Elbe river is unnecessary.