find a cure for rising damp: a village full of floating
The Weekly Telegraph, Issue no. 686
One of the floating homes in Leeuwarden,
northern Holland, which can cost up to £300,000.
It is pictured next to a replica of the East Indiaman
CATASTROPHE strikes. Melting ice and a freak storm combine
to send monstrous waves crashing through the coastal
barriers of the Netherlands. writes Ambrose Enans-Pritchard.
western provinces where millions live in drained polders
below sea level are flooded. The Hague becomes
uninhabitable. The low-lying suburbs of Amsterdam return
to marshland, or open water.
Thanks to the twin effects
of global warming - rising seas and heavier rain - this
nightmare scenario is now
more likely than ever. According to some estimates, it
could happen before the end of the decade.
ever more land from the sea, the Dutch are being forced
to surrender great chunks of it back
to nature. Plans are being drawn up for 220,000 acres
of farmland to be returned to river floodplains. A major
construction programme of floating homes has started.
"We will have to relinquish space to water, and
not win space from it. in order to curb the growing risk
due to flooding." a recent study by Holland's water
management ministry concluded. "If this is not done
in a timely manner, water will sooner or later reclaim
the space in its own, perhaps dramatic, manner," it
Pieter van Geel, the Dutch environment secretary,
of our country is below sea level, and so beyond a certain
level it is not possible to build dykes any more. If
we have a sea-level rise of two metres, we have no control."
study this month by the European Environment Agency found
that average rainfall in part of northern Europe had
risen by up to 40 per cent since 1900.
Dutch are already turning to floating houses. The first
floating village is under construction, at a semi-aquatic
city for 20,000 people on the east side of Amsterdam.
floating homes, built
out of wood and aluminum on a polystyrene base, cost
between £100,000 and £300,000. They have
little terraces but no gardens. If the neighbours are
a pest, the house can he towed to another spot by tugboat.
Frits Schoute from Delft University predicts that entire
floating cities will soon be built all over the world. "If
we turned off the diesel pumps working day and night
to drain the
land, two-thirds of the Netherlands would be under water," he
said. "We can't afford to keep doing this."