Sand and gravel extraction | Kustportaal

Sand and gravel extraction

In the period 2012-2015, between 75 and 95 million m³ of marine sediment was mined annually in the OSPAR region (Northeast Atlantic Ocean and North Sea) (ICES WGEXT Report 2016), mainly for the benefit of the construction industry and beach accumulations. At European level, the impact caused by the extraction of sediments on the marine environment is included in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Some of the descriptors used to assess good environmental status are relevant to the extraction of marine sediments: descriptor 6 on the integrity of the seabed (Rice et al. 2010), descriptor 1 on the conservation of biodiversity (Cochrane et al. 2010), descriptor 4 on the marine food chains (Rogers et al. 2010), descriptor 7 on the permanent modification of the hydrographic characteristics (Walker et al. 2016, ICES WGEXT Report 2017) and descriptor 11 on the supply of energy, including underwater noise (Tasker et al. 2010). In the BNS, the sand and gravel extraction activities are monitored by the Continental Shelf Service - FPS Economy, the RBINS OD Nature / MUMM and ILVO.

In the Belgian part of the North Sea, sand is mainly extracted. The amount of sand extracted has increased sharply over the past few decades and now fluctuates between 3 and 6 million tonnes on an annual basis (FPS Economy, the Continental Shelf Service, 2018; Zeegra vzw.). A significant part of this is used for beach accumulation in function of coastal defence.

The marine spatial plan (MSP, Royal Decree of 20 March 2014, see also Van de Velde et al. 2014) legally defines the zones for sand and gravel extraction. In addition, a reference zone has been established where sand and gravel extraction is prohibited in order to be able to monitor the impact on the environment. This zone is located on the Thornton Bank and also serves as a reference area for wind turbine activities.

More information on  

Marine Spatial Planning
Sand and gravel extraction
Soil characteristics