Frisian Islands Project

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Begun in 1990 by her Majesty Beatrice of Orange, the Plan-Hickstra has as its goal the stabilization of the Frisian Islands, both saving the ecological systems of these islands and protecting the Batavian Kingdom from some of the brunt of North Sea storm surges. The head hydrological engineer is Dangel Hickstra, and the name of the project in Dutch is "Plan-Hickstra". Western press has adopted the title "Frisian Islands Project".

Contents

Beginnings of the Plan

As early as 1975 suggestions were brought by Friesland to the Parliament and her Majesty Queen Juliana, however there was never any serious consideration until her Majesty Beatrice of Orange took the throne in 1980, at which point the Parliament began review of national funding. Internal arrangements were also made within Friesland, and when construction began on the project in 1992 with Vlieland the project was nearly entirely funded by the Frisian government.

Various plans that were submitted included building a long and fortified system of dykes and sea-gates across the archipelago and draining the land between to create a new system of polders. This was found to be ecologically destructive, both to wildlife and the farmers of surrounding land. This lead to a revision of the scope of the plan, which was gradually refined to the current project.

Stages of Construction

The planning stage began immediately after announcement of the project. For the first two years ecological studies reviewed the effects of the North Sea on the islands.

Initial construction began in 1992. Beginning with Vlieland, a series of dikes were built around Vlieland, Griend, Terschelling, and with Ameland finishing the first stage of the project.

The second stage was completed in mid-May of 2006, with the expansion of the Schiermonnikoog island and the creation of Rottumerland from Zuiderduintjes, Rottumeroog, and Rottumerplaat islands. Rottumerland will host a scientific station and small village for the scientists and their families as they study the ecologies of these islands. It was to remain largely closed to the public, however it was decided recently that only the northern portions would be dedicated to wildlife reserves, and the newer, southern part of Rottumerland will be as any of the Frisian islands.

Between all the islands are segments of the Waddenkering, which has been constructed using the same ships as were used in the Delta Works (Deltawerken). The basic design of the Waddenkering is very similar to that of the Oosterscheldekering, but with some major design differences to compensate for soil and tide differences in and around the Waddenzee.

Construction

Each island presented its own hazards and needs. Vlieland was given a much larger beach area with its corrugated coast. Terschelling was given nearly double its size, and Grienderland was created from the Ocean floor that hadn't seen air for nearly two millenia. As with Pepparholm in the Scandinavian Realm, Grienderland has seen growth of long-dead species whose seeds were uncovered through the construction of the island.

Grienderland presented the heaviest engineering problem as there was no pre-existing island on which to anchor the start and finish of the dike. This was overcome, and the small island in the center is now a central hill for the island. It is planned that a monastary be constructed on the center of the island, and the town centre be around the central hill.

Ameland offered a particular problem, as the entire eastern quarter is a wildlife refuge. The Volkspartij voor Ecologisch-Utopie (People's Ecological Utopia Party) was quick to lobby against any infraction of the protections of the island, bogging down the approval process through the Frisian Parliament. Through careful negotiation Her Majesty preserved the wildlife refuge and maintained the plans of the project.

Each of the islands is to be maintained largely as a wildlife reserve, with dunes, forests and estuaries, however there are to be much larger tourist industries with a portion of each island geared toward awareness of the geology and ecology of the region.

Much of the retrieved area of Terschelling is to be a business district with hotels and discotheques to be the "Ibiza of the North". Plans are also afoot to develop an aerodrome to receive some intracontinental flights. Bovair and Venedair S.A. concluded negotiations in late 2006 to help build the infrastructure of the new aerodrome, the Beatrix d'Orange Terschelling Aerodrome.

Each of the islands has been reinforced against the erosion typical of the Wadden Sea, with a series of groynes to help prevent littoral drift. While this is only a temporary fix, and will only serve to mediate the effects of North Sea Storm surges, this will help protect against the flow of sediment and the islands eastward.

The Japanese government has also helped in the construction by providing engineers aware of the compacting risks to softer soils, these engineers having worked in the construction of much of the reclaimed land around Cobé. Their knowledge was paramount in helping to construct the dikes that protect the islands and secure them deeply into the ocean floor.

Tidal Barrier

In order to prevent the vast flood tides of the past that have submerged the Batavian Kingdom, part of the Project is a vast Tidal Barrier which will be used to protect against the highest storm surges of the North Sea, and will be a mixture of all tidal barriers seen before. There will also be a coastal highway connecting the East Frisian Islands to the mainland for the first time in millenia.

Ecological Concerns

Most of these islands have been bird and wildlife sanctuaries for the better part of 50 years. When construction plans were announced there was public outrage, not only by the local ecologically minded folk, but by international concerns, including the government of Oregon. The Plan-Hickstra administration was quick to point out that they would be discussing ecological concerns.

When final plans were drawn up, a happy agreement was made. Griend, which had been a bird sanctuary was expanded, and the entire northwest shore area was converted to a bird sanctuary, thus allowing a tripling of the size of Griend when Grienderland was completed. Ameland was also given a much larger region that is a bird sanctuary, as will Rottumerland when it's completed this year. Original plans dictated that Rottumerland would be entirely given to a bird sanctuary, but now large areas will be protected, but there will be a few villages of 1500 people on the islands.


The soils exposed with the new islands have actually lead to recovery of some lost species of flora that had been otherwise found in the area prior to the last 100 years.

See Also

  • Aerial Photos; Before and After Pictures of some of the islands.
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