October 12 - Antwerp Port Authority has given a warm welcome to the Dutch government's implementation of the treaty on deepening the Scheldt estuary, hailing it as an important step. However, managers are keeping the Champagne on ice until the dredging is
Port alderman Marc Van Peel said: "The most important thing is for a start to actually be made on dredging work in the Western Scheldt. We'll save the real celebrations until the dredging work has been completed and the largest ships can reach Antwerp more easily."
The Dutch government has implemented the 2005 Scheldt Treaties between Flanders and the Netherlands, which lay down that the Netherlands must complete the dredging of the Western Scheldt in 2009.
The port of Antwerp has long pleaded for deepening of the Scheldt, so as to permit navigation independent of the tide by ships with a draught of up to 13.10m/43 ft. Once the deepening work has been completed, seven out of ten ships that currently face problems will be able to reach the port of Antwerp without tide constraints, which is of crucial importance for the further economic development of the port.
The decision must now go to the Dutch Council of State for approval.