Adding a new piece of land to the Netherlands is no simple affair. Maasvlakte 2's optimum design is the outcome of at least a decade of drawing and calculations.
Over the years, a large number of different designs for Maasvlakte 2 have been developed and... rejected. Each design was subjected to extensive studies. The Port Authority kept close track of the respective advantages and drawbacks of the designs. Their impact on the environment, on sea currents, the local population, the shipping traffic, their cost: everything was taken into account.
Ultimately, two options made the grade: the so-called reference designs. One design had its own direct entrance from the North Sea, while the other design could be entered via the existing Maasvlakte. Both options were elaborated further in seven design variants. For these seven variants, it was mapped out even more extensively and meticulously what their impact and effects would be on the ecology and the environment and on investments. This was done with the aid of computer simulations as well as a scale model of the port.
The best design: the cut-through variant
The so-called cut-through variant proved to be the best design. It derives its name from the fact that in this design, the northern section of the Maasvlakte's Yangtzehaven needs to be cut through. The entrance to the new port area will traverse the existing Maasvlakte. The land reclamation will have an excellently streamlined contour, which minimises its effect on existing sea currents. The specific strengths of this design are:
- Financial advantages
To give Maasvlakte 2 its own direct entrance from the sea, the existing piers - heavy stone structures in the sea - would need to be extended by 4 or 5 km. This is a costly affair. For this reason alone, the cut- through variant will save many hundreds of millions of euro.
- The cross-current
The so-called 'cross-current' runs parallel to the coastline. This current forces ships to adjust their course considerably when entering the port. Without additional measures, a direct entrance from the sea would result in even more cross-current. Constructing a special port dam to improve the port's accessibility and safety for ships is very expensive.
- Silt transport and maintenance
A direct port entrance from the sea would cause more silt to be sucked into the port entrance and fairways. This means increased maintenance to keep the port basins at the required depth.
- A more compact size
Of all the designs, the cut-through variant requires the least fairways. Fewer fairways means more usable port site on a smaller surface area. Therefore, the impact of a compact Maasvlakte 2 on the surrounding area and the environment will be considerably smaller.
- Streamlined contour
The contour of the seawall has a relatively positive effect on the North Sea current along the Dutch coast. This means that the land reclamation will have a very limited impact on the coastline, the sea and the marine environment.