The island of energy
TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS © GEMEENTE GOEREE-OVERFLAKKEE
Goeree Overflakkee is one of the most sustainable regions in the Netherlands, with lots of untouched nature. It is the perfect place in which to relax and unwind, with city life never more than just half an hour away.
The air is clean, the sea is fresh and life is laid-back. In the southernmost delta island of South Holland is the island of Goeree Overflakkee, with untouched nature aplenty, and yet not far from the vibrant city life of Rotterdam. Here, the locals, as well as several national and international companies, are working hard to make their island energy neutral by 2020.
“As one of few municipalities in the Netherlands, we have set this deadline in order to really make ourselves work for our sustainable goals,” says Arend-Jan van der Vlugt, who is councillor of the municipality of Goeree-Overflakkee. “By 2020, we hope to obtain our own energy through windmills, sun energy, biogas instead of electricity and the new plans for a tribal power installation. With these natural resources, such as the sun and the sea, surrounding the island, we try to make the most of it,” Van der Vlugt explains.
Role model in sustainability
The island tries to set an example for others. Van der Vlugt: “Sustainability can be quite a broad term, but we try our best to make a big change on this small piece of land in terms of energy.” In addition to being a role model in sustainable entrepreneurship, the island is also home to welcoming locals who are more than happy to receive visitors on their beloved island.
And Goerree-Overflakkee is certainly the ideal place to relax and unwind in, whilst still being close to the vibrant city life in the so-called Randstad, a collective of the four biggest cities in the country, as well as the Belgian city of Antwerp. With the calm energy of nature and the surrounding waters, it is great for a midweek break or short getaway. And visitors looking for somewhere to stay, can choose between the hotel by the seaside or bungalow parks at the seaside. “We offer something for each and every budget. Guests can enjoy a luxurious stay in one of our beach lodges, or camp in nature on one of our many campsites. Or, choose to stay at a local B&B,” Van der Vlugt says.
Home for curious flamingos
Thanks to its sustainability ambitions, the island is also home to several exquisite animals. One of its best kept secrets is the special visit of a group of wild flamingos every year. In the autumn and winter seasons, the curious birds make a home for themselves on the island in order to unwind and relax, just like the island’s human visitors. Van der Vlugt: “Not many people know this. It’s quite wonderful and, most of all, a very special sight. They feel comfortable in the rich and untouched nature landscape.” The island is also home to some other varieties of bird, such as the spoonbill and the black tern. And you can often spot several seals along the shores.
With the North Sea and inlets Biesbosch and Haringvliet, the island is also a great place to be for lovers of water sports. “Divers and swimmers come here to train or just for fun,” explains Van der Vlugt. And in fact, the European, as well as the World Championships in freestyle windsurfing, also take place here every year.
A stay on the island can of course be combined with a visit to one of the nearby cities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam or Antwerp. Van der Vlugt: “For those who are looking for a holiday in nature, but with a bustling city life at your doorstep, this is the perfect place to start.”