Coastal Defence at Katwijk
The dike at Katwijk at sea consists of a stretch of beach, a largely built-up dune, and a damming construction. The water manager of the region, the Rijnland District Water Control Board, periodically inspects the dike for compliance with the most recent safety norms determined by the Minister and Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment for the coastal regions. It was decided, based on the most recent tests, that the dikes needed to be reinforced.
We provided the strategic communication, and the press and representation for the Rhijnland District Water Control Board in the run-up to the project. One of the key objectives in that regard was to create awareness, within the organisation, of the significant benefits of involving the communication department in the very earliest phases of large projects of this nature. We then compiled a stakeholder and influence analysis to obtain an overall impression of the environment and the parties concerned. Based on the analysis, we then consulted different parties about the impact of the coastal defence project. Above all, we gave it our very best. The Katwijk municipality wanted to build a parking garage in the coastal defence structure; which is a unique combination in Europe. The task of establishing balanced communication with all the parties concerned about the studies into the available options, as well as about “safety versus ‘taking a position in the heart of the community’” was therefore also a unique challenge.
The complexity of the procedure makes it essential to approach the press in a proactive way. We maintained regular contact with the national and regional press to ensure that we would have the full support of the community. In addition, we also involved the environment in the development of the plan from the very beginning. After having issued our recommendations and having held a number of sounding board sessions, we made a well-considered choice in favour of a variation that took a wide range of interests into account. As a result, the project became living proof of the fact that early engagement of the communication channels yields significant benefits during the course of the execution.