A majority of MPs is still opposed to the plan to flood parts of the Hedwige polder near Antwerp, as agreed years ago with Belgium.
The Netherlands is committed to flooding the area of reclaimed land to compensate for the damage to nature caused by deepening the Westerschelde estuary. The estuary is being dredged to allow bigger ships to reach Antwerp port.
But during a parliamentary debate on the plan on Thursday, opposition MPs and MPs from the ruling Christian Democrats joined forces to call for an alternative. They say the focus should be on letting nature take its course outside the dykes rather than flooding valuable farmland.
The Netherlands has not yet carried out its share of the dredging work, which caused a diplomatic row between the two countries this summer, forcing prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende to reconfirm his commitment to the plan.
Farm minister Gerda Verburg is currently carrying out a ‘final check’ of the alternatives to flooding but will give the green light to the dykes being broken if there is no other option, news agency ANP reports.
A final decision is due by the end of the year.
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