Legislation and instruments

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Legislation and instruments

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A comprehensive overview of soil legislation is provided in the document Dutch Soil Policies. For additional information about Dutch laws, regulations, circulars, policy documents and cabinet positions concerning the soil policy in recent years, see also the website of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Comprehensive overview

The Netherlands has many laws and regulations. Two of the most important laws that serve as the foundation for Dutch soil policy are the Soil Protection Act (Wet bodembescherming - Wbb) and the Environmental Protection Act (Wet milieubeheer - Wm).

The Soil Protection Act (Wbb) contains general rules to prevent soil contamination. The Environmental Protection Act (Wm) is the most important environmental law, which establishes that permits must be obtained before certain activities may be performed. The permits are issued by the competent authorities. For soil policy, this law means that permits must state the extent to which companies must make provisions to protect the environment and the land, for example. A responsibility to return the soil to its original state may also be in force. In most cases, the permits are issued by the municipalities and/or the provinces.

The Dutch laws and rules are based on principles as set out in the Soil Protection Act and the Environmental Protection Act. Important legislation in the current soil policy for dealing with soil pollution and guaranteeing conscious and sustainable soil management includes the Soil Quality Decree (Besluit bodemkwaliteit) and the Soil Quality Regulation (Regeling bodemkwaliteit).

The Soil Remediation Circular 2013 (July 2013) serves as a supplement to the Soil Protection Act. This circular is adapted to the new soil management policy as set out in the Soil Quality Decree, and applies to dry land. It contains guidelines for the use of remediation criteria and the determination of remediation goals in the case of soil pollution. Municipalities and provinces can use the remediation criteria to determine the severity of the pollution, and whether a site needs urgent remediation.

Soil quality standards and site risk assessment models

Soil quality standards and site risk assessment models are at the heart of the Dutch policies on soil protection and soil reuse (sustainable land management and site remediation). These instruments underwent a comprehensive review between 2005 and 2007. A summary of the outcome is given in Know the quality of your soil or aquatic sediment. More detailed information can be found on:

National soil protection guidelines

The national soil protection guidelines (NRB) have been confirmed at administrative level by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Union of Water Boards, the Association of Provinces, and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities within the Soil Steering Party (Stubo, formerly called Stubowa). The NRB guidelines therefore serve as a harmonised toolkit to assess the need and feasibility of soil protection measures and facilities. Despite lacking a legal status, the guidelines do have a powerful steering function, having been confirmed at the highest administrative level. Deviations from the guidelines are possible, as long as clear reasons are provided (such as in the preamble to an environmental permit). Any deviations must be accompanied by proper reasons because, once the NRB guidelines have been converted into conditions in permits or general administrative orders, they give rise to legally binding regulations.

Cost Calculation Model Area Oriented Approach

The Cost Calculation Model: AOA provides a standard to assist in an objective consideration of the costs for an area-oriented approach or the aftercare of soil remediation.

Other instruments

Numerous instruments regarding site investigation, soil sampling strategies, soil treatment and reuse, remediation technologies, chemical analyses etc. are available (although most of the information is in Dutch). Useful sources of information include the following:

[www.sikb.nl]: SIKB is a network, encompassing both the private and the public sector, wich was set up to continuously and structurally enhance the standards of activities relating to soil management in the Netherlands. This includes decision-making, service provision, as well as soil remediation and soil handling.

[www.nen.nl]: NEN also serves as the Registration Authority for a number of international standards. The NEN website provides information about standards and standardisation.

[www.skbodem.nl]: the Dutch Centre for Soil Quality Management and Knowledge Transfer (SKB) develops and transfers the knowledge required by owners and managers of plots of land and sites in order to efficiently coordinate the quality of the soil with the intended purpose. SKB supports the development and presentation of new types of collaboration, new approaches and techniques in order to improve the coordination between soil use and soil quality, and it boosts the wider social acceptance thereof.