Economic Impacts of the Flemish Inland Waterways Masterplan

Economic Impacts of the Flemish Inland Waterways Masterplan


J Gille, J Harmsen, ECORYS, NL; V Minne, IDEA Consult, BE


The Flemish waterways authorities have drafted a masterplan for the Flemish inland waterways. This paper presents the impacts of this masterplan on the construction sector, the inland waterway transport demand and the environment.


In Flanders, two waterway authorities are responsible for the management, operations and maintenance of the inland waterways: Waterwegen & Zeekanaal (W&Z) and NV de Scheepvaart (NVS). Both organisations have drafted a joint masterplan aimed at improving the waterways network in order to enhance the use of inland shipping. This is considered important for the Flemish and international economy due to its contribution as an environmental mode of transport.

End of 2008 and especially in 2009 the inland shipping sector was hit hard by the global economic crisis. In Flanders, over 2009 the volume of inland shipping declined by some 13% and many companies faced financial difficulties. National governments throughout Europe, including in Belgium, took short term measures to try to stimulate growth or at least to try to minimise decline. For the longer term however this places the government for the challenge of repairing their own financial position.
This may have long term consequences for the waterways masterplan, which involves plans covering over ? 2 billion of investments for the period 2009-2014. A reduction or postponement of these investments may have an impact on several sectors. The impact will not be limited to the development of the inland shipping sector, but will also be noticed in the water construction sector.

This paper will present the results of a review conducted on:
- the economic impacts following the construction of the proposed investments: this covers e.g. the direct effect on labour impacts,and added value in the construction sector as well as indirect and deduced impacts in other sectors following intra-industry relations and consumption effects. Finally this section also calculates the revenues for government through taxes and social security contributions.
- the consequences for inland shipping on the Flemish waterways: this covers e.g. the expected growth in waterway transport and the extra freight flows that may result from the investments. Also economic gains from efficiency improvements are addressed.
- environmental impacts related to the investments: this covers e.g. the impacts on emissions from the transport sector (from modal shift and/or efficiency improvements) as well as impacts on other factors such as safety, and water management.


Association for European Transport