The construction of the Sand Engine pilot project started in March 2011 on the Dutch coast near Ter Heijde. The favourable meteorological conditions had already allowed to accumulate 19 million cubic metres of sand. At the current speed, the Sand Engine should be finished in July, that is to say much earlier than expected. This is a worrying fact for the surfing community which hopes to optimise the project in order to both protect and develop the practice of surfing.

The project in a few words

This pilot project consists of laying an enormous quantity of sand along the coast of the Netherlands to form an artificial hook-shaped peninsula (about 20 million cubic metres in total). Once the construction is finished, the Sand Engine will slowly erode and shift along the length of the coast, between Hoek van Holland and Scheveningen (around 15 kms), thanks to the natural action of the currents, waves and tides, in order to protect the coastline.

Surfrider Foundation Europe's involvement

The Sand Engine file is part of our Keepers of the Coast Environmental Program. The association supports local surfers in order to warn them of any eventual negative effects on the waves. Indeed the surfers are worried about their surf spots disappearing, which cover the area south of Hock van Holland to Scheveningen, and they would like to develop activity in this zone.

Optimisation of the sand bank

Surf Interest (a group made up of Surfrider Foundation Holland and Holland Surfing Association) has been carrying out an intense lobbying since the beginning of the project to optimise the sand bank, but with the unexpectedly rapid progress of the construction, the group doesn't have enough time.

The province, the rescuers and Rijkswaterstaat (a government agency in charge of the practical execution of the work and water management in Holland) do not want to take any risks and so have decided that the Sand Engine zone will be out of bounds for bathing and boats for some time after the construction. A security evaluation will then be carried out and, if proven conclusive, access to the Sand Engine will be opened. The project to officially designate Sand Engine as a surfing zone is currently under discussion with the province and the municipalities.

The continuation of the mobilisation

To compensate for the banning of access and the refusal of optimisation, the zones south (Ter Heijde) and north (Kijkduin) of Sand Engine are being studied in order to envisage new surfing spots: the first is officially designated as a surf zone unlike the second which it is still forbidden to access due to the strong currents.

Surf Interest is continuing its mobilisation so that surfers will be taken into account. From now until autumn, the sea near Sand Engine will be transformed into shoals which will damge the waves as has been seen in Camperduin and Ameland. But the good news comes from the fact that really great waves will be present around the Sand Engine in winter and will be accessible no matter what happens.

Surfrider Foundation Europe and its Keepers stay vigilant.

Traduit par Tara Kenway

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