It explodes at the bottom


It’s getting busier in Brabant soil. This is especially the case in urban areas. All existing social challenges, such as the transmission of energy, sometimes claim their deep spaces in the subsoil. Keeping track of this is becoming increasingly important, and cooperation between governments is becoming apparent. Noord Brabant reports that a lot is changing, especially for the municipalities.

We all know this: Suddenly the power goes out. This failure occurs more than once due to a pipe that was broken during excavation work. It’s getting busier on Dutch soil. There are more than 1.7 million kilometers of cable and tubes in the earth; Not only for electricity but also for the movement of water, gas, oil and data.

So it is necessary to control what is happening or about to happen on the ground. But who is really responsible at the bottom? When it comes to matters at a depth of 500 meters or even less, this question is easy to answer: the government. This mining law is used to regulate and regulate activities deep underground, such as the extraction of geothermal heat or gas. And above that? “Municipalities are increasingly in control there,” says Karen van Mill, project leader, who is the lead of the Warm Transport Soils Project.

As a result of the Environment and Planning Law – which is due to start on January 1, 2023 – the municipalities will become “competent authorities for solid soils in the living environment”. This requires some getting used to. Van Mill: The municipality was really the focal point for the design of the living environment. But it’s not about polluted soil, that’s what the county is all about. This will change. Now that the municipalities are starting to deal with the matter, it will become easier to deal with the problems in an integrated way.”

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Think deeply

Example: If a landlord finds soil contamination, he still has to report it to the county. He then checks whether any necessary investigation of the soil has been carried out properly and makes a decision to treat the soil for this approach. These tasks are transferred to the municipalities. Are they ready for that?

Not all of them, as van Mill knows: “We see that knowledge is still missing here and there. And also because of the arrival in 2013 of environmental services, to which many municipal employees went. It is true that the municipality will soon have to delegate a large part of its tasks to those Environmental service. However, it is important for the municipality to consider ambitions for tasks such as energy transition and climate adaptation. And any space in the soil it needs for that.”


However, whether this shift in responsibilities works well, depends not only on the civil service. According to Van Mel, managers will also have to pay attention to this. It also draws attention to the warm transfer of tasks from the province to the municipalities. “Over the next few years, board members will meet regularly to discuss social issues such as the energy transition, housing or climate adaptation. In addition to their vision on this, they will also have to think about the consequences of putting things on the ground for it.”

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