Sea Defence & Coastal Management

One of the most crucial core tasks is the protection of the population against the forces of the sea, storms surge and flooding. Therefore, it is a top priority to devise a Master Plan for Coastal Safety which is guaranteed to provide adequate protection against the sea, taking into account climate change and the rising sea level.

For creating a safe sea-defence structure, the Coastal Divivsion takes account of the natural dynamics of the coast, the natural interaction between beach, currents, waves and wind. In case of a storm, great water depth causes bigger, higher waves. On a wide beach where water depth gradually decreases, the heaviest storm waves lose their force. With soft sea-defence structures, the emphasis is on the creation of widened, raised and therefore safe beaches. The 460 hectares of dunes providing protection against the sea, the so-called natural sea-defence structure, are protected, preserved and organized by the Coastal Divivsion with a view to sustainable use and development.

To protect the heritage of the seaside resorts against the sea, from the 19th century onwards sea dikes with promenades were constructed. The dikes were later reinforced and expanded. Most sea dikes are outdated. They are not high or structurally stable enough to withstand storms. Some sea dikes are renovated simultaneously with the raising of beaches. They are widened or fitted with incorporated storm return walls. In renovating the sea dikes, we work with the coastal municipalities and cities as well as with experts on urban development and sea-defence works in order to turn them into attractive promenades.

While sea defence works always remain a priority, the Coastal Divivsion also pays attention to the other functions of the coastal zone. In performing our duties, we are committed to using an integrated and sustainable method. In doing so, we have regard for all functions of the coast and we consider the users. In the performance of both our own tasks and external projects, we emphasize respect for all functions of the coast. As such, we ensure an integration of nature values and an economic, recreational, tourist and cultural experience of the coast in putting in place protective structures against flooding.

In steering and working groups for major infrastructure works and area strategies we strive for a strengthened role as a mediator.

Since 1997, the Coastal Divivsion systematically searches for unexploded ordnance from both World Wars. About ten years ago this was not possible but today cutting-edge technology allows for all ferromagnetic anomalies (= foreign objects) to be safely mapped and carefully dug up.