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Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED)

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED)

What to study?

For Prelims: NEED- features and geographical location.

For Mains: Need for, significance, challenges involved and issues of feasibility.


Context: A mammoth Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) has been proposed to protect millions of people and important economic regions of 15 Northern European Countries from rising seas as a result of climate change.

About the proposed dam:

Two dams of a combined length of 637 km will be constructed.

  • First dam will be built between northern Scotland and western Norway, measuring 476 km and with an average depth of 121 m and maximum depth of 321 m.
  • The second dam will be built between France and southwestern England, of length 161 km, and average depth of 85 m and maximum depth of 102 m.

Costs involved:

Researchers have estimated the total costs associated with NEED at between €250 billion and €550 billion. If construction is spread over a 20-year period, this will work out to an annual expense of around 0.07%-0.16% of the GDP of the 15 Northern European countries that will be involved.


The construction will “heavily impact” marine and terrestrial ecosystems inside and outside the enclosure, will have social and cultural implications, and affect tourism and fisheries.

Need for such measures:

  • Such protection efforts are required if mitigation efforts fail to limit sea level rise.
  • And, separating the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean may be the “most viable option” to protect Northern Europe against unstoppable sea level rise (SLR).
  • While NEED may appear to be “overwhelming” and “unrealistic”, it could be “potentially favourable” financially and in scale when compared with alternative solutions to fight SLR.

Way ahead:

Such mega-enclosures could potentially be considered in other regions of the world, including the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea.

Sources: Indian Express.