The role of Natura 2000 and project design in implementing flood defence projects in the Scheldt estuary

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This paper presents an account of two developments: the effect of EU Natura 2000 biodiversity policy on local planning and implementation processes, and a shift towards a ‘Building’ or ‘Working’ with Nature approach when designing water infrastructure projects. The account is based on a longitudinal case study of the 35‐year chronology of a flood defence project which has been implemented along the River Scheldt in Flanders. The case study data have been analysed using a chronological time series analysis. The paper concludes that ‘Building’ or ‘Working’ with Nature is resorted to both at the EU and local level, because it works to balance previously conflicting interests and is acceptable to most actors who take part in project implementation. By placing ecological goals at the start of the planning process, the authorities elsewhere in the EU could avoid conflicts of interest and speed up project implementation in Natura 2000 estuaries
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1379
JournalJournal of environmental planning and management
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • IR-82483
  • METIS-290445

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