Port guild dinner: Harbers in favor of Europahaven arrival

Outgoing Minister Mark Harbers insists on the possibility of building a port in the Houtrakpolder. This can then be combined with water storage. He said this at the annual Port Guild Dinner 2023 amidst 500 invited guests from the port community.

a smiling minister mark harbers. white gentleman in suit with tie and short hair

The municipality of Amsterdam, Port of Amsterdam and the port business Port Authority see the Houtrakpolder in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer as an ideal location for the expansion of the port basins. So far, Machineweg is the outer border of the port area and Houtrakpolder is part of the Spaarnwoude recreational area.

Against construction
The municipality of Velsen and Haarlemmermeer are against the construction of another dock. Haarlemmermeer is betting on peak water storage in the Houtrakpolder and a Tennet transformer. Alderman Jurgen Nobel of Haarlemmermeer, also present at the Port Guild Dinner, says: "The government also wants to have an eye for water and soil. There is not enough steering on that now. A water peak storage is needed to catch a lot of water in a short period of time in times of prolonged and heavy rainfall, which is occurring more and more often. The Hoogheemraadschap van Rijnland (Water Board of the Rhineland) is also so into it, because they are very concerned with the consequences of climate change."

As part of the "Development Perspective NOVEX-North Sea Canal Area," it is proposed to scrap that reservation for the port (included in previous municipal and provincial port visions) and use the area purely for water storage. Harbers argues in his speech that this is not a good thing for the development of the Amsterdam port area and that the various functions might also be bundled. 'In my opinion they are both of equal social and economic importance. So why not 'and/and' instead of 'either/or,' the minister said.

Harbers pointed out to his audience that the port will lose about 650 acres of land to housing development for the development of the completely new Port-City district. According to the minister, this loss is matched by little compensation in the form of new port sites to be developed. In total, according to Harbers, only about 50 hectares are involved, including the new Energiehaven near IJmuiden (the old Aevrijhaven) with 13.7 hectares and a piece of port area that now belongs to Tata-Steel (about 30 hectares). "All in all, the Amsterdam port will therefore lose 600 hectares. This has considerable consequences for the economic impetus of the port," Harbers said.

The outgoing minister's "pressure" on the Port of Amsterdam is also increasing as coal transshipment is set to cease in 2030, cruise ships are disappearing from the city "and more and more port land is being snatched away for housing development.

This is why the outgoing minister pleaded at the Port Guild Dinner for a strategic reservation of the Houtrakpolder for the Amsterdam port and to 'not scrap this ambition in advance', but to first investigate 'whether it is feasible' to combine water storage with the construction of a new port basin for Amsterdam. He has also already come up with a suitable name for that future port in the Houtrakpolder: 'Europahaven'.

Source: Port Guild Dinner, Nieuwsblad Transport and IJmuider Courant