knokke - Belgium can get its first real island, but instead of being proud, half the country is already on its hind legs.
A plan to inject 1200 meters off the coast of Knokke sand and create beautiful beaches there, produces furious reactions.
Flemish minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) proposed two years ago to lay down a forty hectare island. This is primarily intended to protect the east coast against storms and flooding. But it is also a great opportunity to interrupt the concrete wall that disfigures the Belgian beaches with something else.
The Minister wants to start with a small island from 2020 onwards, and then to work out big.
But Knokke-Heist is furious about the megalomaniac plan they believe. Mayor Leopold Lippens leads the way in the protest.
'We are not often angry. I would not know what to worry about. But now I am extremely mad. They are going to destroy everything here ', Het Nieuwsblad quotes the resistance from the town.
Mayor Leopold Lippens personally goes around with protest pamphlets with the text 'No to island off the coast of Knokke-Heist. 'In the photo a tanker floats by and rusty oil barrels lie on the beach. Lippens had a total of seven thousand printed. In the chicest boutiques and jewelery shops there are petitions: Knokke-Heist is on the warpath.
The coastal town fears a wall of sand against the advancing sea. And that, of course, costs customers on the regular beach.
'And in the meantime the value of our houses and apartments is falling,' says Suzanne Souren (91) against the newspaper.
The Dutch Jacqueline Teunissen (56) now thinks of hers. She has a holiday home in Sluis but has been coming to the beach bars at Knokke plage for years. 'For the ambiance. Ah, a lot of tourists do not look at the sea here anyway. We look at this, 'she says, pointing to her Aperol Spritz. 'They can safely think about that island from me. '
Gallery owner Marc Pauwels. 'This is not going to stop the great flood? Then the Netherlands should just do the same? If it really matters, then the whole of Flanders simply goes under. Test island or not. '
The residents think of a real protest march towards Brussels.