largest port in Belgium


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The challenge

The port of Zeebrugge is the second-largest port in Belgium and an important player in Europe. But the current situation makes the port vulnerable; the Vandamme lock is currently the only access route into the inner port. If there is a problem with the lock or if maintenance is being performed, the entire port is paralyzed. The goal of this complex project is therefore to improve and safeguard nautical accessibility. In addition to tackling economic development, this project also takes account of the improvements that are required to quality of life, environmental quality and mobility around the port.

The solution

The Visart lock (built in 1904) can no longer handle the demands of modern shipping, leaving the Vandamme lock (1984) as the only access route into the inner port. The Flemish government's Maritime Access department (Afdeling Maritieme Toegang) commissioned Arcadis to investigate six alternatives (with a total of ten options) for construction of a new sea lock and compared the results against a scenario in which no second lock was built. Our primary focus was a strategic environmental assessment and social cost-benefit analysis.


    Based on the results of our research, the Flemish government opted to build a new lock at the current location of the Visart lock. The work will be carried out in conjunction with construction of a new Nx link road, with a tunnel under the site for heavy goods transport and through traffic and the necessary linear facilities such as public transport and cycle paths and footpaths. This will relieve the burden on local roads and the residential areas of Zeebrugge and make them safer.


    Arcadis has a thorough understanding of the environment, the sensitivities and the choices made in this dossier, making us the ideal partner to accompany development of this project. We are responsible for the project research paper, summary paper, project decision, project and process management, environmental impact assessment (including calibrated groundwater model, in collaboration with IMDC), social cost-benefit analysis, feasibility study, mobility study and energy study, with a focus on wind or solar power.


    We operate in a consortium with Tractebel. Connect has been appointed participation manager and is responsible for communication with An Luyten. Consult Supply will assist with neighboring companies.

The impact

Zeebrugge is a logistics hub; with this complex project we are capitalizing on all of the port's potential and shoring up its status as an economic driver for the regional economy and the wider Flemish economy, both now and in the future. In addition, the project is also improving Zeebrugge's mobility and quality of life, and all the port's 'neighbors' will have the opportunity to be heard.

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