Consequences of soil extractions

Soil extractions cause an irreversible change in landscape. A group of inhabitants of Deest, a village in ‘het land van Maas en Waal’, in the province of Gelderland, is concerned about the consequences of soil extractions in the surroundings of Deest. This report is a result of an explorative research by the Science Shop of the Wageningen UR. The group is organized in the ‘Goeie Gronde’ foundation, and obtains, through this report, knowledge about the different aspects of soil extraction. Other stakeholders like province, municipality and soil extraction companies can also benefit from the theoretical framework presented in this report, structuring the assessment of consequences of soil extractions.

Based on literature research the report gives an overview of the juridical framework for granting soil extraction licenses. The province is the entity responsible for this license and coordinates the application for related licenses like for the Flora and Fauna law and the Water law. Since 2008 the Dutch government has released the national objective for sand extraction. The determination of soil extraction locations has been handed over to the ‘market’. An important condition is that the soil extraction has to yield social value. The provinces Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Gelderland, where most of the soil extractions are taking place, have formulated their own policy concerning the aspect of social value. Also the soil extraction companies have formulated a code of conduct where aspects of social value are being prescribed.


Besides the value, every soil extraction is causing nuisance. The way positive and negative consequences are being assessed differs per situation. In this report a theoretical framework is being presented based on which consequences of soil extractions can be assessed in a structured way. The framework can be applied on sand extractions on the riverside of the dike or on the land side of the dike. Also the level of scale varies per consequence. The consequences can occur on local, regional or national level. Extractions on the landside of the dike in general cause more nuisance than extractions on the riverside.

The assessment of all circumstances and consequences of soil extractions in the process of the granting of a soil extraction license is a long lasting process, where many stakeholders such as soil extraction companies, municipalities, provinces and citizens are involved. Because local and regional government, represented by the municipality and province, are involved from the beginning as advisor or party concerned, the process is characterized by a contradiction between subjectivity and independent judgment at the stage of the granting of the license by the same entities. In order to prevent social resistance, it is very important that the communication towards citizens about objective and progress of the soil extraction process is precise and transparent. In the course of the trajectory towards the granting of the soil extraction license the potential consequences have to be taken into account. Within the borders of the current legal framework the connection of objectives (social value and economical value) is obligatory. Therefore it is required that a soil extraction will have more positive consequences than negative consequences. The assessment of the social value is partly a political discussion and partly has to be checked in relation to (provincial) policies and law.

Four cases have been evaluated with the evaluation framework of potential consequences presented in chapter 3 of this report. The evaluation assesses whether the potential consequences also have occurred in practice. The two realized soil extractions in Deest have been included in this assessment. The assessment shows that some consequences occur in all four cases. The consequences occur on different levels of scale (local, regional and national) and sometimes can be judged as positive and sometimes as negative. The negative consequences are mostly occurring on the short term and positive consequences mostly have to do with the final destination of the project.

The concluding remarks of this report are related to the process of granting of soil extraction licenses. Within this process there is a certain space for subjectivity at the stage of assessment of the soil extraction process. Improving the agreements between the stakeholders concerning the tasks and responsibility, in the process of granting the license, can limit the chance of a prejudiced decision. More insight in the financial consequences on municipal level en legal checks and balances, can improve transparency in decision taking.

More about this project (in Dutch) can be found on the Dutch webpage.