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North expansion of Port of Valencia

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Roberto González Fernandes,

Civil engineering has always served the human being as a tool to advance and reach levels of development that would have been unthinkable without the construction of great works that currently support a large part of our commercial and transport systems.

The growing importance of the climate change in which the planet is immersed has served to intimately unite the modifying action of engineering in the field with the respect and adequacy of such actions as far as the environment is concerned. 

The northern container terminal at the Port of Valencia is the perfect example that evokes the debate on how to improve the economic development of a region without compromising future generations.

The situation that arises shows two opposing positions at the level of port development: on the one hand, the growth and competitiveness of the port is ensured by the need to increase the surface area to accommodate and service a greater number of containers, as well as the creation of jobs, while on the other hand, both extremes are questioned on the grounds of the possible underuse of the existing infrastructure and that a certain automation of the processes would reduce current jobs. 

The positions could be closer if there were only the pitfalls mentioned in the previous paragraph, but the most important cause is the core of what this article is about: environmental integration.

The configuration of the port of Valencia has the particularity that it does not have a natural shelter system as in Barcelona or Bilbao, which means that any enlargement implies the creation of elements that are gradually introduced into the sea with each expansion of the port to enable this increase in port area. On the other hand, the dikes cause the sand transport to be inadequately carried out, with the beaches to the south receding every year. In addition, the main problem of the expansion is the salinization of the Albufera, since the decrease in sand could destroy the fresh water that nourishes the natural park, with the irreparable ecological damage that this would entail.

Figure 1: Composition of the port of Valencia. Source: Pú

There are other no less important issues in this regard: the possibility of higher gas emissions (although it is asserted that the new terminal will have an unprecedented railway intermodality and the machinery used will be powered by completely renewable sources), dredging that will promote greater erosion of the beaches and higher waves, as well as the probable need for road connections that provide continuity to the infrastructure (new roads or highways connecting the port).  

The adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement dating from 2007 is the main element that has the project stalled after so many years (more than 15) as it is questioned whether it can be fully in force, leading to the continuation of complex legal proceedings despite the approval of the infrastructure in the Council of Ministers on December 19, 2023. 

The understanding seems complicated and all parties have their reasons and misgivings to defend their positions. The solutions in these cases always involve giving in on certain terms that satisfy both parties to a certain extent, one possible solution being the preparation of a new EIS that reassures the environmental and neighborhood associations by showing that the reports of the Directorate of Coasts and both the Port Authority of Valencia and Puertos del Estado agree on the environmental viability of the expansion of the port.

On the other hand, the next of the possible solutions would be the enhancement of the port of Sagunto, which is one of the proposals of the neighborhood associations to constitute a port axis between the two. Its expansion is planned, so it could be used to compensate for possible damage between two different locations. In addition, the expansion of the Port of Valencia involves changing the location of the passenger terminal, which would be located closer to the neighbors, so taking the terminal to another port can serve as a relief of both acoustic emissions and air quality.

Figure 2: Location of the future north terminal and consequent relocation of the passenger terminal. Source: Ecologistes en Acció – Valencia.

Finally, everything that has happened should serve to reflect on civil engineering actions and whether, given the magnitude of the infrastructure and the number of probable effects, a collaborative approach should be applied from the outset that considers the largest possible number of stakeholders (neighbors, farmers, users…) in order to reach a broad consensus that, with the development of the project, cannot become clogged and paralyze its development, harming public-private collaboration and increasing the costs due to delays in the various procedures necessary for its execution.


En proyecto – Valenciaport (Consultado a fecha de 31 de diciembre de 2023):

Así será la terminal de contenedores de MSC en la ampliación norte del Puerto de Valencia – Valencia Plaza(Consultado a fecha de 31 de diciembre de 2023):

El Puerto de València activa una inversión de 1.564 millones de euros para su nueva terminal de contenedores – Valenciaport (Consultado a fecha de 31 de diciembre de 2023):

La ampliación del Puerto de Valencia es una obra innecesaria, despilfarradora y contraproducente – WWF España(Consultado a fecha de 31 de diciembre de 2023):

Ampliación del puerto de Valencia | Las 12 claves de la ampliación del puerto de Valencia – Las Provincias(Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

Ecológica, intermodal, la nueva terminal de contenedores del Puerto de Valencia con capacidad para 5 millones de contenedores – Industrias Pesqueras (Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

El estudio de la UPV sobre la Ampliación Norte del Puerto de Valencia confirma los beneficios socioeconómicos y ambientales que tendrá la nueva terminal – CEV (Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

Las claves de la polémica ampliación del Puerto de Valencia – (Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

La ampliación de Puerto Valencia es imprescindible para la economía y el medio ambiente – Fundación Conexus(Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

Figure 1: Naviera MSC: La ampliación del puerto de València amenaza al ecosistema y a la economía local – Público (Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

Figure 2: No a la ampliación del Puerto – Ecologistes en Acció (Consulted as of December 31, 2023):

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