Flood protection | Kustportaal

Flood protection

Climate change is causing global sea level rise and more and more intense storms, increasing the risk of floods with material and economic damage (IPCC). The Netherlands and Belgium are among the most vulnerable countries in the European Union, as more than 85% of the Belgian (15% of Flanders) and Dutch coastal areas (zone up to 10 km inland) are below the level of an annual storm (+5 m TAW) (Eurosion, Balancing the future of Europe’s coasts, EEA 2013, EEA Report 2017). Moreover, the Belgian coastline is the most built-up area in Europe (Brouwers et al. 2015). In addition to habitation, our coastline also has important economic activities, partly due to the presence of seaports. As a result, in the event of flooding, the loss of human lives and material damage can be very high (The Ports of Flanders 2017, EEA Report 2017, see also Klimaatportaal Vlaanderen).

Since 1951 the sea level in Ostend has risen by 12.7 cm. It is very likely that this trend will continue with potentially a higher pace. In order to protect our coast against flooding, the Flemish government has approved the Masterplan Kustveiligheid. This plan must provide adequate protection for the coastline, the coastal ports and the adjacent low-lying polders against a storm surge with a return period of 1,000 years, with 2050 as the time horizon. The progress of the plan can be followed on www.afdelingkust.be. The protection of the coast (sea defences) is also addressed in the marine spatial plan (MSP, Royal Decree of 20 March 2014, see also Van de Velde et al. 2014). It formulates a number of spatial policy choices with regard to a safe coast (raising beaches, investigating the effect of raising sandbanks on the safety of the coast).

In addition, investments will be made in studies and projects that prioritize resilient sea defences and integrated coastal protection. For example, within the Complex Project Kustvisie a long-term approach will be developed for the protection of the Flemish coast with a time horizon of 2100; within the CREST-project it will be examined how coastal safety can be fitted into the spatial development of the coastal zone in a sustainable and cost-effective way; and within the new Ecosystem Vision for the Flemish Coast (Van der Biest et al. 2017a, Van der Biest et al. 2017b), visions of an integrated coastal protection for Flanders will be cited.

More information see theme text ‘Safety against flooding’ of the Compendium for Coast and Sea and the publication CoastalINsight2019 (Dutch) and the Klimaatportaal Vlaanderen.

Marine Spatial Planning
Flood risks
Sea defences
Coastline evolution