Share article:
Share article:

Half of all plots of land in Flanders could require testing

Soil analysis to detect historic pollution, carried out by ABO consultancy © ABO

Up to 100,000 plots of land in Flanders – about half of all the plots in the region – could require soil testing and possible cleaning, under a new rule due to come into force next year.

The rule states that any plot of land at risk of being polluted must be subjected to a soil analysis to find out if that is in fact the case, and if so, it must be cleaned up.

The official waste management agency for the region, OVAM, has created a website which allows landowners to check if their land has in the past been the location for any activity which might potentially lead to pollution. The list of possible sources is long: from garages to dry-cleaners, and any activity which involved materials such as metals, mineral oils and solvents, which are considered hazardous for human and animal health, agriculture and nature.

The website indicates “plots at risk,” whose owners will from next year be obliged to carry out a soil analysis and, if the report calls for it, to pay for the expensive clean-up operation required. The plan ultimately is to have all plots at risk cleaned up by 2028. Any landowner who fails to take action on a warning from OVAM faces legal sanctions.

The website asks for details of the location of the land, and offers four different results: green indicates there is no sign of potentially polluting activities on the plot, and no further action is required; yellow means there is information available which the owner can obtain from the website or directly from OVAM; orange means your plot is at risk, but you are likely to be excused the responsibility for an analysis as OVAM is responsible; and red signifies a plot at risk which will require a soil analysis and whatever action that analysis requires.

So far, the response in some areas has been sluggish, according to Flemish environment minister Zuhal Demir, in reply to a parliamentary question. In the municipalities of Lochristi in East Flanders and Dessel in Antwerp province, fewer than 10% of all plots have been queried by their owners, while each location has more than 1,000 plots at risk which will require analysis. Ghent, meanwhile, has the honour of the largest number of plots at risk that have still not been investigated by owners – 4,776 in total.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Non-urgent care once again postponed in some hospitals
As the worsening coronavirus situation in Belgium is starting to take its toll on hospitals, it has been confirmed non-urgent care will once again be ...
Brussels Airport warns autumn holidaymakers to arrive early
Passengers leaving from Brussels Airport this autumn have been advised to factor in extra time to account for longer than normal check-in times and ...
27,000 Belgian taxpayers to pay more after incorrect tax break
About 27,000 taxpayers who wrongly received a tax reduction in the last three years due to an error by the tax administration will have to pay what ...
Wallonia launches first major survey for cyclist satisfaction
Following in the footsteps of France and Flanders, the Wallonia Region of Belgium is launching its first major satisfaction survey on municipal ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
Strong warnings issued ahead of climate change summit
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...