Bureaucracy 1, Rottumeroog 0
EEMSMOND _ Bird watchers found a dead deer on the island in May. It must have walked there when the tide was out and got marooned when it rose again. Rottumeroog is a sand spit, off-limits to humans, except for the odd bird watcher. No people. No buildings. No roads. No services. So it’s easy to see why a bureaucrat decided the island must have named streets and house numbers.
Eemsmond town council on the mainland, 7 miles away, has decided that a bird watchers shed is a “habitable” building. That means that by law it must be on a named street and have a house number. The national forestry service ridiculed that. Why? For mail delivery?
Jorinne Bakker of the forestry service: “There are no permanent residents on Rottumeroog. There’s a sandy path that the wind shifts hither and yon. They’ll be moving that street sign frequently up there!”
Not easily held back by common sense, bureaucracy’s wheels were resolutely shifted into higher gear with the appointment of a panel to think up proper street names for Rottumeroog.
The tiny island (the red dot on the map below) lies in a string of barrier islands _ some inhabited, others not _ off the northern shores of the Netherlands and Germany and Denmark’s westernmost coast. They enclose the shoaly Wadden Sea, a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands and rich in biological diversity. The Wadden Sea was named a World Heritage site in 2009. It stretches 500 kms from the Netherlands past the great river estuaries of Germany to Esbjerg, Denmark. In Dutch ‘wad’ (‘watt’ in German) means ‘mud flat’