Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 1 March, North Sea Port was once again awarded the environmental certificate of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO). North Sea Port remains committed to sustainable port infrastructure, reduced emissions and nature development.
North Sea Port remains the first cross-border port to achieve the European environmental label, the PERS certificate. In the words of Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port: ‘Setting up this kind of environmental management system across a land border, the Netherlands and Belgium/Flanders, is no mean feat. So we are proud to be able to put the certificate on our wall for the second time.’
Sustainable construction, emissions reduction and biodiversity
Measuring performance is one thing. Constantly striving to improve the environment in the cross-border port area is quite another and it is an effort that demands ongoing attention. It means considering infrastructure construction as well as reducing emissions from seagoing and inland vessels and increasing biodiversity in and around the port and industrial areas.
A few examples:
When it came to deciding on the design and construction of a bridge over the railway line at Kluizendok, reducing CO2 emissions was an essential factor. Sustainability has also been taken into account from design to execution when building a new jetty for river cruises in Ghent. At the same time, shore power is being provided for inland navigation vessels, which will reduce noise, particulate matter and CO2 emissions for the surrounding area. The river cruise jetty will become operational over the course of 2024. Work is also underway to provide shore power for seagoing vessels.
North Sea Port is seeking to establish a maritime Green Corridor with Gothenburg and the DFDS shipping company in Ghent. In the future, sustainable ships will generate fewer emissions over the entire route, and they will pay reduced port fees as a result.
On Axelse Vlakte in Terneuzen, a tall hedgerow made up of hawthorn, buckthorn and other varieties has been planted at the location of a new road access. Previously, ecological connections between old and new nature had been lost in new land-use developments. In order to reconnect the Groene Knoop nature reserve with Side Canal C, trees and shrubs have been planted. As a result, the area’s ecological functions have been restored.
Network of European ports
PERS stands for Port Environmental Review System. It is an environmental management system aimed at sustainable development and tailored to European ports. It allows their environmental performance to be measured and adjustments made where necessary. Certification is conducted by an independent organisation. And a port is not awarded the label in perpetuity: there is a review every two years. PERS-certified ports must undertake action to improve their environmental performance and reduce their emissions.
The certificate is awarded by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO)
Under the EcoPorts banner, 103 members share their knowledge and experience of environmental management. Around 30 of them have already earned the PERS quality label for their environmental management. North Sea Port has now confirmed its membership of this select club.
The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) is the voice of sea ports within the European Union. It represents ports and port associations from 22 member states plus Norway and advocates for the interests of sea ports during the formulation of European policy. ESPO ensures that ports receive all the relevant information about that policy. Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port, is currently vice president of ESPO.
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