"Burden Balancing" project completed

Sustainable soil use could be promoted by a resource-oriented soil policy, and by connecting the ecological and economic balancing mechanisms.

The project aimed to examine and evaluate the balancing potential of different land use policy instruments. The analyses have shown that the instruments used to implement current spatial planning policies are inadequate and under-exploited and cannot therefore adequately redistribute the added and reduced value generated by land use. Goals based on local policy objectives, such as a competitive tax regime or optimal regional development, can also have a negative impact on sustainable soil use. By analysing experiences with spatial planning legislation, the research team was able to show that coupling property rights with specific land use rights puts additional pressure on the soil. The researchers recommend amending the legal provisions as follows:

  • Abandoning the sectoral logic of individual policy areas (spatial planning, building law, environmental protection, soil protection, environmental remediation, agriculture) in soil use and protection policy;
  • Connecting ecological and economic balancing mechanisms: creating a mechanism to couple the tools used to balance ecological and economic added and reduced values;
  • Coordination of balancing levels: design and use of the instruments at the level (e.g. structure planning, land use planning or special land use planning) corresponding to the functional scope of the envisaged balancing of the economic and/or ecological added and reduced values;
  • Developing the land improvement cooperatives and expanding their functions to include regional compensation mechanisms.

Two further recommendations require extensive changes and are politically highly challenging. If we wish to achieve truly sustainable soil use, analysing changes to tax policies and territorial competition, and reviewing the definition of land ownership, are essential.