Adaptive monitoring of sand extraction areas – Maasvlakte 2 extension

Planning and design

Monitoring is a condition for permitting under several laws, which already has to be taken into account in the planning and design phase. The permit conditions include requirements for a monitoring plan, its execution and its evaluation. The main monitoring requirements in the case of the sand extraction for Maasvlakte 2 originate from:

  • the Nature Law, under authority of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (Ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie (EL&I)) and;
  • the Mineral Extraction Law, under authority of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu (I&M)).

The themes of the MEP (Monitoring and Evaluation Plan) Sand Extraction and the corresponding monitoring elements are listed below. A more detailed description can be found in the report on this study (Tamis & Baptist, 2011).

Nature Law requirements

Compliance monitoring is conducted as part of the permit conditions required by the Nature Law under the authority of the Ministry of EL&I. These requirements differ per protected area:

  • Voordelta
    • Land use (area)
    • Erosion induced by MV2
    • Change of the tidal wave
    • Increased total suspended matter (TSM)
    • Noise, ship movements and light emissions
  • Kwade Hoek
    • Deposition of nutrients (N) in the dunes
  • Haringvliet/Grevelingen/Eastern Scheldt
    • Effects of increased suspended matter on terns, monitored via TSM measurements.
  • Waddensea en North Sea coastal zone
    • TSM concentrations along the Zeeland and Holland coast, by use of modeling, remote sensing and field measurements.

Mineral Extraction Law requirements

  • Bathymetry and extracted material
  • Seafloor properties
  • Suspended matter and changes in spring bloom
  • Species composition on the extraction sites
  • Sound

Monitoring plan

The MEPs for Mainport Rotterdam have 2 goals:

  1. verification of the extent to which predicted scenarios of environmental effects correspond with reality;
  2. gathering data for filling the most important knowledge gaps, as identified by the MER (Milieu Effect Rapport: Environmental Impact Assessment) and Passende Beoordeling (Appropriate Assessment for Natura2000) (van Zanten et al., 2008).
  3. The most important effects of large-scale sand extraction from the North Sea bed are thought to be the destruction of benthos followed by a recolonisation of the seafloor by benthos at the extraction site and its direct surroundings. Furthermore, there are potential effects of dredging-induced turbidity on the natural processes within the food chain and on the abundance of shellfish and birds. The MEP Sand Extraction is conducted by the Maasvlakte 2 project.

Monitoring reports

Both the Ministry of EL&I (Nature Law) and the Ministry of I&M (Mineral Extraction Law) demand periodic reports.

All monitoring results shall be validated, analysed and reported by Mainport Rotterdam. The results and findings of all measurements completed in one year shall be summarized in an integrated annual report to be submitted to the authorities. This report includes at least an overview of the monitoring efforts, a description of the findings and the conclusion from the analysis and interpretation of results. The results will be compared with the predictions underlying the EIA (Ministry of I&M).

The exact format of the annual reports and the format and frequency of possible interim sub-reports shall be established per monitoring theme in consultation with the authorities. The Mineral Extraction Law requires 6-monthly reporting. Extraction progress shall be reported each month, including the amount of material extracted, location and time of each extraction and the results of granulometric analyses (Ministry of I&M).

The permit under the Nature Law states that each year before the 15th of July the results of the monitoring shall be submitted to the Ministry of EL&I. If necessary, interim reporting can be required (van Zanten et al., 2008).