Bird Island construction – expansion of Port 2000 Le Havre


As the port of Le Havre reached its limits, a major extension was planned. The community, however, raised many questions on environmental and economic issues, which could only be met by introducing flexibility in the project’s design and construction. The main goals were to minimize the ecological impact and to maximize the use of dredged material.

The creation of a bird island was included in the project as environmental compensation. The island would be located in the Seine estuary as a designated bird habitat.

Project Management and Governance

Because the harbour extension could affect the environment, much opposition existed among fishermen, bird watchers, hunters and local farmers. At the same time a dispute between the European Commission and the French government on the designation of environmental protection areas slowed down the process. Many years of negotiation finally led to consensus on a number of compensating measures.

Project Solution

A large new container harbour was created in the estuary of the Seine, including breakwaters and an access channel. Moreover, the project included compensation measures to minimize the environmental impact. These included the creation of mudflats and bird habitat and the re-routing of infrastructure through ecologically less vulnerable areas. Also the design and construction of the port extension were adapted to meet environmental requirements.

In order to add ecological value to the area and to increase the total area of bird habitat, a bird island suitable for sea birds was projected in the Seine estuary. It was shaped to have a minimal effect on the currents.