The European Commission introduced a request on 22 September 2006 for a Directive from the European Parliament and the Council establishing a framework for the protection of soil and for the amendment of Directive 2004/35/EC (SFD-001).
The suggested Directive includes:
- The achievement of a common framework concerning the soil protection on the basis of the principles of the preservation of soil functions, prevention of soil degradation, reduction of the effects of soil degradation; rehabilitation of degraded soils and integration in other sectoral policies.
- The demand to establish, describe and assess the impact of certain sectoral policy orientations on soil degradation processes; taking into account the protection of soil functions.
- The commitment for land owners to take precautions when it appears that the way they use the soil significantly impedes the normal soil functions.
- An approach to soil sealing to ensure a more rational use of land in accordance with Article 174 of the EC Treaty and to maintain as many soil functions as possible.
- Mapping of areas where there is a risk of erosion, organic matter decline, salinisation, compaction and landslide, and the establishment of a national action programme. The size of the threatened areas should therefore be checked. In order to guarantee a consistent and comparable approach, the determination of the risks should take place on the basis of common elements. This includes parameters that are known as the driving forces for the different soil threats. Targets to reduce the risks should be adopted, just as measures to achieve these objectives. These programmes can be built on the standards and on the measures which are already formulated and implemented at national and community level.
- Measures to limit the introduction of hazardous substances in soils. These measures will avoid an accumulation of such substances in the soil so that they do not compromise the soil functions and that they do not create a risk for the human health and the environment.
- The creation of an inventory of contaminated sites, the setting up of a funding mechanism for the curing of “orphan sites??, the disposition of soil reports and the establishment of a national strategy for the curing of the assessed contaminated sites. It contains a definition of “contaminated sites?? and a list of the potentially contaminated soil activities. These are the basis for the tracing of potentially contaminated sites, which is a preparatory step for the creation of an inventory of effectively contaminated sites. To complement the above-mentioned information, the seller and the potential buyer have to write a report about the actual state of the soil (“Soil Report??). This report has to be written for every single sale. A similar provision on the energy performance of the buildings is already part of the Community law (see Article 7 of Directive 2002/91/EC).
On 14 November, the European Parliament determined its position in first reading on the proposal of the European Commission. In the Environment Council meeting of 20 December 2007 no political agreement was reached. Germany, France, Malta, The Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom rejected the proposal for various reasons; a blocking minority. Up to September 2012, the situation did not change. The European Commission did not change, nor withdraw its proposal. Member States maintained their position. Further action is not expected before 2013.
Some relevant documents:
SFD-001: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the protection of soil and amending Directive 2004/35/EC (European Commission)