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 Masterplan for Coastal Safety that 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 Division takes account of the natural dynamics of the coast, the natural interaction between beach, currents, waves and wind. In the event of a storm, a greater depth of water 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 organised by the Coastal Division with a view to sustainable use and development.
To protect the heritage of the seaside resorts against the sea, sea dykes with promenades were constructed from the 19th century onwards. The dykes were later reinforced and expanded. Most sea dykes are outdated. They are not high enough or structurally stable enough to withstand storms. Some sea dykes are renovated at the same time as the beaches are raised and the dykes are widened or fitted with integrated storm walls. In renovating the sea dykes, 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 Division 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 take into account all functions of the coast and we consider those who use it. In the performance of both our own tasks and external projects, we emphasise respect for all functions of the coast. As such, we can ensure the integration of nature values and the economic, recreational, tourist and cultural experience of the coast with the implementation of flood defences.
In steering and working groups for major infrastructure works and area strategies, we strive for a stronger role as a mediator.
Since 1997, the Coastal Division has systematically searched for unexploded weaponry from both World Wars. About ten years ago this was not possible, but today, cutting-edge technology means all ferromagnetic anomalies (= foreign objects) can be safely mapped in an efficient and safe manner before being excavated.