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Elbe deepening and widening finally under way

After around 17 years and many court cases in Germany and Europe, the Elbe fairway dredging project is finally under way

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Elbe deepening and widening finally under way

German Federal Minister for Transport Andreas Scheuer, assisted by Hamburg’s senator for economic affairs Michael Westhagemann and several leading figures from business and civil affairs, "pushed the button" to get the deepening work under way on the suction pipe of the dredger SCHELDT RIVER.


In future the draft of the Elbe will be 13.50m irrespective of tide and low water and, on a flood wave, vessels with 14.50m can reach the port of Hamburg. The fairway will be widened from 300m to 320m and, near Wedel, a passing box (Begegnungsbox )measuring 8,000m long and 385m wide will be built, to provide passing space for four large container vessels passing.


Around 40M m3 of material will be dredged. The entire project to completion in 2021 is budgeted at €780M, similar to the cost of Hamburg’s new Elbphilarmonie concert hall, which will be split between the Federal government and the city of Hamburg.

Suction dredger SCHELDT RIVER inaugurated the 3-year programme
Suction dredger SCHELDT RIVER inaugurated the 3-year programme

Minister Scheuer stressed the importance of the project not only for Hamburg, but also for Germany as an important export country. “Hamburg serves all of Germany and is Bavaria’s seaport," he said.


Environmental groups including BUND, NABU, along with many residents and professional fishermen have again called for the project to be halted. Despite official assurances, It is claimed that dikes, flora and fauna are endangered by the extra flow of salt water into the Elbe.


Olaf Lies, former finance minister and now minister for the environment of the state of Lower Saxony, commented that JadeWeserPort, in his state, is Germany’s port for very large container vessels.

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