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The silt in the Elbe is still causing problems

The federal government is apparently still unable to get the problem of the Elbe silt under control.

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The silt in the Elbe is still causing problems

The federal government is apparently still unable to get the problem of the Elbe silt under control. Even after the deepening and widening of the Elbe fairway, which was officially released for shipping in January, the target depths according to WELT information can often not be maintained.

Outgoing ships from Hamburg should have a target depth of 13.50 meters regardless of the tide and 14.50 meters depending on the depth. According to the maritime industry, ships have not been able to sail with these drafts regularly in recent months.

On Thursday, the port industry and shipping discussed this with Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) in Berlin. This was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Federal Waterways and Shipping Directorate in Bonn when asked by WELT. Results are not yet available.

There are several reasons for the difficult situation. The enlargement of the shipping channel increases the inflow of sediment from the North Sea into the Lower Elbe. This is one of the reasons why the environmental organizations BUND, Nabu and WWF had tried vehemently for years to politically and legally prevent the Elbe deepening and widening. Insufficient water flows from the upper reaches of the Elbe and additional entry of silt from storm surges have intensified the problem this year.

In addition, there is a striking lack of storage space for silt from the Elbe, Weser and other rivers at the federal and coastal states. At the end of 2020, Hamburg's Economics Senator Michael Westhagemann (independent) had already proposed an additional storage area for sediment from the Port of Hamburg and from the Hamburg section of the Elbe - the so-called delegation route - in front of the Scharhörn island near Cuxhaven, which belongs to Hamburg.

He had been sharply criticized for this by Hamburg's environment senator Jens Kerstan (Greens) and the environmental associations. The federal government did not support Westhagemann on this issue either. The federal government at the time, made up of Union and SPD, gave the impression that they were promoting rapid relief, but have so far failed to come up with a concept. The topic is also pressing ahead of other seaports such as Bremerhaven or Wilhelmshaven.

Federal Transport Minister Wissing called for closer cooperation between the German seaports in Wilhelmshaven on Wednesday. The basis for Germany as an export nation is laid in the ports, said the FDP politician. The strengths of the individual port locations should be incorporated into the national port strategy, which the Ampel government parties had agreed to in the 2021 coalition agreement. "It's about developing ports into hubs of the energy transition, making training and employment future-proof and making even better use of the opportunities offered by digitization." The port strategy should also clarify "unresolved financial issues".

Wissing spoke at a discussion event organized by the employers' and business association Jade on the tenth anniversary of the deep-water port Jade-Weser-Ports in the city.

Lower Saxony's Energy Minister Olaf Lies (SPD) also said that together the German ports were more efficient than other ports in Europe. "We're not in competition with Hamburg against Wilhelmshaven, Wilhelmshaven against Bremerhaven, we have to develop our common strength." Digitization can help to connect the ports more closely.

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