Project ‘Scylla’ (delivering fibre optic trough the North Sea)

Project information:

Period: 2019 – 2021

Client: McMahon Design & Management (commissioned by euNetworks)

Involved TAUW consultants: 

  • Marcel van der Knaap
  • Frank Vrenken
  • Konrad Lüftner

Description of assignment

Existing fibre optic cables in the North Sea are 20 years old and are approaching the end of their lifespan and since the demand for data increased as well at the beginning of the 21st century, bandwidth infrastructure provider euNetworks (head office in London) initiated the delivery of a new fibre optic cable from the United Kingdom (Lowestoft) to the Netherlands (IJmuiden).

euNetworks commissioned McMahon Design & Management (MDM – head office in Dublin) to deliver this cable. MDM asked TAUW to support them on this site development in the subsurface. TAUW was requested to support in the search for the best landing option in the Netherlands as well as for support in obtaining the required permits and stakeholder management.

The following work was carried out on behalf of MDM:

  • Investigate and clarify required permits and environmental aspects in order to choose the best landing location in the Netherlands;
  • Apply for the required permits/authorizations for the delivery of the cable from land (at IJmuiden) up to and including Dutch EEZ;
  • Conduct and/or coordinate studies such as ecological investigation, nitrogen calculations, marine assessments (MSFD, WFD, Management and Development Plan for the National Waters -BPRW-), historical soil investigation, archaeological desk study and marine archeological assessment (using survey data);
  • Carry out stakeholder management in IJmuiden (including drafting of a private land agreement for the cable landing and beach manhole location);
  • Provide support in complying with permit conditions



During the project, MDM was TAUW’s client and point of contact. As part of the assignment TAUW maintained the contacts and assisted with gaining permits and approvals from the authorities (Ministerial departments -LNV / RVO / Rijkswaterstaat-, water board, province, municipality) as well as from other stakeholders (area manager, owners of beach bar, nature organizations, etc.).

“MDM enjoyed a very successful collaboration with the Tauw team for the permitting and associated works for the Scylla subsea fibre optic cable system in the Netherlands jurisdiction. Tauw’s input and efforts were critical to the successful delivery of the system in August 2021. As well as their technical input Tauw were a pleasure to work with and approached the project and its challenges with an open, positive and constructive attitude.”

Rory Ryan, Project Engineer, MDM



In order to share expectations and monitor actions and progress, TAUW had frequent (weekly) progress calls with MDM during the project. As well authorities and other stakeholders had been involved in the process at a very early stage. Procedures and processes were coordinated in time so that permit applications were submitted 'tailor-made' and questions from stakeholders could be answered adequately.

This active collaboration resulted in the start of construction in April 2021, with the execution of a steered drilling (HDD) under the beach and dunes to the open sea. This timeline was nearly in line with the schedule as preferred by MDM a year earlier. The actual delivery of the cable to England through the North Sea was finished in August 2021.



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