The Rijkswaterstaat yesterday presented three proposals to islanders to help solve the silt problem affecting the current ferry route from Holwerd to Ameland, including a tunnel connection to the mainland
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported in the Friesch Dagblad, one plan in particular raised eyebrows on the island: the suggestion that the town of Nes on the island of Ameland should be connected to Holwerd on the mainland by a tunnel for cars or trains. “If I go out during the afternoon, I don’t lock the door. I don’t lock my bike if I’m in the village. You’ve got the freedom to do things like this on the island”, said Klaas Molenaar, reacting to the news.
Other options for improving the connection to Ameland include a major overhaul to the existing route, moving a separate existing route between Ferwert and Nes, and building the tunnel. Naturally, at a meeting on the island where the proposals were presented, the tunnel option received the most backlash from current islanders.
Whilst some of the opposition to the tunnel is practical, the idea has also struck a chord with those who feel Ameland should retain a semblance of independence from the mainland: “if they dig a tunnel, we will just close it again from this side. Earlier in time, we were an unattached state, with no dependance on either Friesland, or the Netherlands. That still sits in our DNA”, said Jur de Vries, who also lives on the island.
Residents on the island are to be consulted in groups over the plans. One of the outcomes of this process, it is hoped, is that whichever solution is found will be completely accepted and supported by the islanders. One potential problem identified is that with better connections come more tourists, cars, and overall visitors.
At the event, the project leader for the Rijkswaterstaat, Zjéf Budé, was asked about the possible ecological consequences for the plans. His answer was that ecological concerns, in accordance with Dutch national law, will be considered first and that economic concerns will only be thought of after that. “But there is only one solution [to ecological concerns]: a tunnel”, he said, “all of the other options are an intervention into the Wadden.”
It is the intention that in 2023 or 2024, a decision will be made.