En route to sustainable ports in the North Sea Canal area

Increasingly, local and provincial authorities are seeking to promote sustainability in their region, although the precise definitions of the concept differ. This is also the case for development of the harbour facilities along the North Sea Canal, where various parties are currently working on a vision of the future setting out the desired long-term development path for this area. In this context the Green-Left fraction of the Noord-Holland provincial executive is keen to make activities in the area more sustainable so that these still provide sufficient employment and opportunities for economic growth without this going at the expense of environment, biodiversity and landscape.

Against this background the fraction asked CE Delft to review the strategies available to government authorities to pursue sustainable development in the ports of the North Sea Canal area. In this report three basic policy tracks are elaborated:

  1. Policies on future industrial activities
    A proactive and coherent location policy can be elaborated that is geared to selective admission of activities having a positive environmental footprint. Relevant in this context is proactive soliciting of companies that dovetail with clusters of industrial sectors using each other’s residual raw feedstocks and waste heat.
  2. Policies on transport operations
    Ships entering ports can be categorised as to their environmental performance (NOx and SO2 emissions). This can be done by introducing differentiated harbour dues based on the Environmental Ship Index, ideally along with other ports.
  3. Policies on infrastructure modification
    This relates to investments in sustainable zoning of the area, with due focus on efficient use of the available land, provision of green spaces and renewable energy generation and use. Efficient on-site energy use by (new) industries can also be encouraged. The report discusses various instruments that can be employed for this purpose, including ‘deposit’ schemes, ‘red for green’, cost balancing, tradable user allowances and sustainable development funds.