After it was discovered that the Wadden Islands are “escaping into the North Sea”, research is currently being carried out by a consortium of northern knowledge institutions about how to attach the Wadden Islands to the Dutch mainland.
Researchers from the University of Groningen, the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the Wetsus Institute, as well as a team from the Royal Dutch Institute for Geological Coupling (KNIGK) are looking into ways to tether the errant islands to the Dutch coast.
The Wadden Islands form an archipelago over the north of the Netherlands, stretching from Texel in the west to the easternmost populated island: Schiermonnikoog. The islands have become a popular international tourist destination in recent years, having been a Dutch summer staple for much longer.
Whilst residents of the various islands normally say that they feel ‘Dutch’, the islands themselves seem to disagree, with researchers discovering a trend towards “generational drifting”. This natural phenomenon will see the islands leave Dutch territorial waters in the next 100 years.
“The fear is that in about a century, the islands will technically become part of Denmark”, said Professor Jouke de Grap of the University of Groningen, “which is why we are suggesting radical action to central government. It is essentially the same thought process as when people lock benches to the front of their house with a bike chain, except for in this situation the benches are moving themselves.”
It is not yet clear how the chain will look, nor whether the islands will be chained together themselves. Suggestions for funding the project have ranged from “sponsor a chain-link” initiatives, to creating the world’s largest network of chain-driven ferries. “If we use the chains to increase ferry links between the islands, it will only support tourism”, said Haak-Lijn van der Zinklood, an instructor at the Hanze’s business school.
Coastal regions of Denmark have expressed opposition to the plans, with Deputy April-Snar Tror Ikke of Tønder Municipality in Denmark suggesting that “if the Dutch Wadden Islands decide that they, in themselves, wish to be a part of Denmark, we would very much welcome them!”