Today I paddled with Joris in the Voordelta. It was a cool, cloudy fall day, with exceptional good sight. More details about the trip later, first what came in my mind: 2 seasonal rambling remarks...
(1) Farewell Summer! The mornings are getting cold: the first frost is in the air. Outdoor-activities in shorts and T-shirt are definitely over by now, alas (but that doesn't match with the Dutch seakayak-dresscode anyway ;-). Today I paddled in the Palm-Drysuit again - it has been stored in the kayak-gear-closet since Anglesey. Oh not, that's not correct: the Drysuit has been in England for repair: Palm has replaced the tape on some leaking seams. I must say the after-sales service of Palm is excellent! I do hope the repair is durable and leakage stays out.
(2) Farewell Aardappelenbult! This was probably one of the last paddle-trips above the flooded sandbank "de Aardappelenbult". From April or May next year on, this popular seakayak-destination will be a strictly closed area: thanks to the expansion of the world port of Rotterdam! Directly adjacent to the current harbour and industrial area, Rotterdam will create the Maasvlakte 2: a new location for harbour activities and industry in the North Sea: thousands of hectares of industrial terrain that lie on a deep waterway. It will be built by constructing a seawall in the sea. Sand will then be sprayed into the enclosed area, creating new land. The construction of Maasvlakte 2 will lead to a loss of sea habitat and to reduction of the quality of the Voorne dunes. It is legally required that this loss be compensated.
The loss of sea nature will be compensated through the establishment of a sea floor protection area of approximately 25,000 hectares in "the Voordelta" off the coast of Voorne-Putten, Goeree-Overflakkee and Schouwen-Duiveland. Within this sea bottom protection area, the nature will be given extra protection. In addition, smaller bird and seal "rest areas" will be designated in which supplementary rules will apply.
The Aardappelenbult is one of these "rest areas" - the rules that will apply on the "rest areas" mean that in the future any human access (including us seakayakers) in these zones is strictly forbidden. The Voordelta is an estuarine zone that's noticeably affected by tides. Almost the whole Aardappelenbult is covered by water during high tide, but the "rest area" will be permanently closed. It's not relevant if any activity does have any disturbing effect at any moment - no entrance is a general rule - all the time. Playing in the surf above the flooded Aardappelenbult won't be possible anymore. It's over...
Detailed information about the upcoming new rules for the Voordelta (in Dutch):
- Project website of PMR-Maasvlakte2
- The draft of the decision paper - chapter 2.3 and 3.1 regard the situation of the rest area's and the consequences for seakayakers in the Voordelta.
The Dutch authorities consulted the Dutch kayak-organisations in an early stage about the nature compensation plans for Maasvlakte 2. Over the past two years we had an intense and constructive debate about the possibilities to mitigate the consequences of the plans for the seakayakers. In general there are no (new) limitations for seakayking in the sea floor protection zone. The only (but radical) exception are the rest area's. In these areas it's "nature above all". Nature interests have defined the number and the location of these area's, but the interests of the seakayakers have been taken in account by the final location of the borders of these zones: the borders are (whenever possible) located in a way that popular seakayak-routes stay possible. The most NE-tip of the Aardappelbult is kept out of the rest area "Bollen van de Ooster" to reserve a spot for surfing activities.
Said this, the compensation plans do seriously affect future seakayaking in the Voordelta.