Ahead of a November plenary vote, MEPs in the Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on 9 October in favour of a Commission proposal that gives member states considerable room for manouevre on soil protection.
The Environment (ENVI) Committee’s vote on the report by Christian Democrat MEP Cristina Gutierrez-Cortines follows an earlier deliberation (EURACTIV 14/09/07) that revealed significant disagreements between MEPs.
Members from the EPP-ED group had even called, unsuccessfully, for an outright rejection of the proposal on the grounds that it lacked coherence and that more time was needed by member states to study different soil management and protection options.
Despite the differences, MEPs voted to move the dossier forward. The main provisions of the vote include a requirement for member states to draw up public inventories of contaminated sites, to be updated every two years. Acidification, biodiversity loss and climate change effects are to be included among the criteria used to monitor soil degradation.
Member states will also need to draw up soil remediation strategies (with an allocation of appropriate funds) seven years after the transposition of the directive, and ‘risk reduction targets’ will need to be set for the most severely contaminated areas.
The Parliament is expected to finalise its first reading during a November plenary session, and the Portuguese EU Presidency is hoping to reach a political agreement during an Environment Council on 17 December.