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Van Oord and Royal Haskoning announce ideas for an airport in the North Sea

Dredging company Van Oord and consulting engineers and architects Royal Haskoning offer ideas for improving the safety of the Netherlands along the coast, reducing the pressure on the Randstad and at the same time making even better use of the scarce land in the Netherlands. According to both companies this can be done in an innovative and feasible way. The two firms have based these ideas on the experience they have acquired in Dubai, where they have been working together for years on the Palm Islands.

Over the last few months the two organizations have been jointly studying the options for a large-scale coastal extension and an airport in the North Sea. The proposals are a response to questions that are topical in the Netherlands about the safety of the coast as a result of the expected rise in sea level, and the lack of space and the need to expand the natural residential environment in the densely populated Randstad – the area containing Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. The plans for the coastal extension and the international airport in the sea are based on the knowledge and experience that both parties have developed in the course of many years while designing and executing large-scale land reclamation projects and artificial islands in the sea, including recent projects in Dubai such as the Palm Islands and The World.

Coastal extension 
The proposal is to broaden the coastal zone by three kilometres in order to enhance the safety of the Netherlands. This will create 250 square km of 'new land'. The proposed work is split up into phases covering the coast from the Hook of Holland to Den Helder. It will take about 25 years, and approximately 3.8 billion cubic metres of sand from the North Sea will be needed. The companies have calculated that if one third of the 'new land' is zoned for residential building and offices, and the rest as a nature and recreation area, the project can be implemented on a cost neutral basis. This idea for a new Dutch coast also includes a new row of dunes three km off the coast that are able to withstand the rise in sea level. Experts are predicting increases in sea level of between 60 and 80 cm before the end of this century.

Airport in the sea 
The proposal also includes a pioneering design for an international airport - about 20 km from the coast - with innovative floating and rotating runways. This airport can be operational 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This can enable the Netherlands to further expand its important position as the gateway to Europe after 2025, when the current Schiphol Airport will have reached its maximum capacity. Schiphol will remain the hub from where passengers go the airport in the sea. Transport will be provided by maglev trains that shuttle through bored tunnels between the terminals in the sea and the current Schiphol. This proposal reduces the pressure on the Randstad and the land around Schiphol, which can then be used for other purposes. In addition, safety will be improved and the nuisance caused by noise and air pollution affecting people living near Schiphol will be reduced.

“New, innovative and creative ideas are born by combining brainpower. The collaboration between Royal Haskoning and Van Oord is proof of this,” say Van Oord Managing Director John van Herwijnen and Chairman of the Royal Haskoning Board of Management Jan Bout.

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