Mar 5, 2008

Reclamation and coastal works: too fast?

Leading coastal specialist calls for change
AME Info 5 Mar 08;

Full article on wildsingapore news

Some extracts ...

Professor Kees d'Angremond, a leading consultant on coastal engineering, has called for major change in the way countries and corporations plan, execute and manage coastal development.

The pre-eminent consultant from The Netherlands gave an overview of the world's biggest and most ambitious mega-projects.

He charted evolution in both size and technology from developments like the Suez and Panama Canals, which were completed in the mid-19th Century and the early 20th Century respectively, through Lake Ijssel's closure and reclamation in The Netherlands (1950s and '60s), Singapore's Tuas and Changi reclamation projects (1980s), Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok island airport (1990s), culminating with residence and leisure-based projects today in areas like the UAE (The Palm, The World), Oman (The Pearl), Bahrain and Qatar.

Prof d'Angremond focused on the effects these may be having on the natural world, noting that ever-larger projects have ever-larger and more widespread impact. However, he identified accelerated production times, rather than sheer size, as the main environmental issue.

'The Suez and Panama Canals, the Ijssel reclamation, the Delta Project, they were gigantic undertakings - far larger than the mega-projects of today. But Suez took 11 years to build. Including its initial failure, the Panama Canal took double that - at a cost of 27,500 lives. Ijssel took 40 years.'

But slower execution times are actually better for Mother Nature. Although average mega-project scales are three to five times smaller now, completion times are between one to three years on average. However, nature's response time remains a constant. This means the environmental effects are sometimes unclear until long after contractors and consultants have moved on.'

Prof d'Angremond emphasised the danger of less available time for concurrent evaluation. Short job times mean fewer critical engineers with less time observing how the environment is being affected. To offset this danger, he underscored the need for rapid response scenarios formulated in advance, money to be spent on more critical engineers on site, and more investment in post-construction monitoring - our 'after-care' service to Nature.

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