CEDA Iberian Conference

Dredging for sustainable port development

Beneficial use of dredged material under existing European and international legislation

27-28 October 2016, Lisbon, Portugal

Helmut Meyer, Federal Waterways and Shipping Agency, Germany

Dredging is essential for the maintenance and development of ports, harbors and waterways for navigation, remediation and flood management. This generates large volumes of dredged material. Historically the most common dredged material management approach employed in many countries has been disposal at sea.

Therefore the protection of the seas in issues of dredged material placement on the high sea, in coastal waters, and in the inner waters is regulated in the international conventions on the protection of the marine environment (London Convention 1972 for assessment of dredged material, Ospar Convention 1992 for management of DM, Helsinki Convention 1992 for disposal of dredged spoils). The conventions were ratified by the many countries and are therefore national law.

In the framework of these conventions on marine environmental protection, special directives for the ecologically acceptable placement of dredged material in the respective conventions areas have been passed (London 2000, Ospar 2004, Helsinki 1992). Such regulations have to be observed in all operations of waterway maintenance, development, and remedial actions.

Furthermore the EU developed and adopted regulative and technical directives with effects on dredging : the management plans of the EU-WFD and the action plans on the river basin 2010, the daughter directive on environmental quality objectives for priority substances of the EU-WFD 2008, the Marine Strategy Directive 2008, the European Directive on Flood Protection 2007.

However over the last few decades not only the acceptable environmental placement of dredged material has been an issue. There also has been an increasing recognition dredged materials are resources that can be used to provide benefit in environmental and engineering programs conserving primary resources such as mined sand and gravel. There are many possibilities for increasing the use of dredged material whilst also identifying the constraints, e.g. from legislation, that restrict such use.

More recently there have been considerable advances in knowledge about the natural environment and its processes and dynamics which has facilitated innovative uses of dredged material. Attitudes towards the environment have become more proactive where environmental considerations, nature-based approaches, value engineering and win-win solutions (i.e. benefits / value for all parties) are increasingly considered as an integral part of dredging projects from an early stage.


Last update: 3 October 2016