Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cows or jet-skis?

Cows in de Ronde Venen, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Last night we had our dear friends Jon and Pieter round for dinner. We were supposed to be going into town together, but we ended up staying at home enjoying good food (thanks, Fred!) and delicious Argentinean wine (Argento Cabernet Sauvignon and Alamos Malbec).

Pieter had spent the morning being interviewed by Dutch Radio One, the foremost national news broadcaster about plans to flood the area where they live, the Groot Mijdrecht Polder. Apparently, a decision about this will be made on Monday and Pieter was invited to talk about these plans on behalf of the people who live there, not exactly as a campaign leader but more as a spolesman who can communicate the thoughts of the inhabitants.

The Groot Mijdrecht Polder is an area of about 1,000 hectares, about 20 kms south of Amsterdam. It is mostly farmland but has the distinction of being about 6 meters under sea-level, not exactly the lowest area in the region, but close to it. Jon and Pieter have a lovely home there, with a beautiful garden and they are famous for giving excellent parties, most usually accompanied by superb weather, except famously the one time they gave a party at the beginning of July a couple of years ago, when it rained. Anyway... there is always plenty of birdlife around, notably a family of storks with a great big nest in the garden, and also waders, herons, ducks and geese.

The reasons given by the authorities for flooding the area concern the fact that the area is sinking, that it costs a lot of money to pump the water out and that the water which IS pumped out is of bad quality (not sure why but it could have something to do with fertilisers).

However, it should be mentioned that there also happen to be plans to not only flood the area but to raise some of the the ground and build a town of 3,000 houses. The flooded area would then be used largely as a recreation area, causing people to pose the question of cows or jet-skis?

In the interview, Pieter mentions that there have been very few discussions about alternatives to the so-called problems of the area, noting for instance that there is an area even lower than his polder, near Gouda which is being used to build another few thousand dwellings. Anyway, what started off just a couple of years ago as an investigation into the problem and possibilities has quickly turned into a matter of possible no-return, as tomorrow (Monday) a decision is going to be announced.

By all accounts, the area is not under immediate threat of being flooded, this may take over ten years, but a wrong decision will destroy everyone's confidence, and so we wish everyone on the polder that the decision tomorrow goes the right way.

Pieter's interview (in Dutch) can be found on under the title "Protest tegen 'uitpolderen' Groot Mijdrecht".


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