Overriding a motion by 225 MEPs who argued that there should be ‘no rush’ to legislate on soil protection, the Parliament has voted in favour of a proposed EU soil protection law that grants considerable flexibility to member states.
In its first reading vote on 13 November, Parliament voted largely in favour of the report endorsed in October by the ENVI committee, backing the notion of public inventories, as well as the requirement that member states draw up soil remediation strategies seven years after the directive enters into force.
Further elements of the Parliament’s vote include the request that member states list (six years after transposition of the directive) locations where soil-affecting activities have taken place. Potential buyers must also be informed of past activities on sites, particularly in cases where hazardous substances have been used.
The Commission is requested to present, two years after transposition, a proposal for a biowaste directive that sets standards for the use of biowaste on soils.
Five years after transposition, member states are to identify soil protection ‘priority areas’ and take appropriate measures to protect against erosion, biodiversity loss and other threats. Those member states that already have corresponding legislation in place, such as Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, are exempt from this requirement.
Parliament also voted in favour of adding a list of potentially contaminated sites to the directive, re-inserting an annex that had been previously deleted by the ENVI Committee.
A sizeable grouping of MEPs, in particular from the UK and Ireland, pushed for the entire proposal to be rejected outright, but this motion was dismissed with 395 votes against and 225 in favour.