Patrick De Klerck, president of the association of aldermen from Belgian coastal towns, is appealing to common sense when thinking of how to counter rising sea levels in coming decades. With other Flemish aldermen, he is taking a stand against the far-fetched idea of flooding some coastal towns which was suggested in a recent report published in the press on Friday. Daily newspapers the De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad published an article on Friday about the “Metropolitaan Kustlandschap 2100” study which recommended, amongst 4 other scenarios to deal with rising sea levels, flooding La Panne, Coxyde, Furnes, Nieuport and Middelkerke. Between now and 2100, climate change is expected to force the North Sea up by a metre.
Every coastal town is currently taking measures to protect the coast against the storm of the century, points out Patrick De Klerck, who is also alderman of Blangenberge. “Let’s put these measures in place, and let’s be sensible, before considering far-fetched scenarios,” he warns. Infrastructure work on the coast has already started in fact, as well as the building of dams and breakwater wharfs.
La Panne alderwoman Ann Vanheste goes as far as calling the very suggestion of flooding the coast a “boycott” of the western coast. “It would be an economic disaster. Nobody would want to invest in or purchase a property on this part of the coast if such a scenario is planned. It’s simply out of the question.”
Carl Decaluwe, the governor of West Flanders, also insists it is important to gain ground against the sea.
The coastal towns aldermen will discuss the situation at the beginning of May, and will ask the Flemish administration to take part in their meeting, “as we are talking about Flemish measures,” insists Mr. De Klerck.