Policy instruments: Policy instruments for sustainable soil and land use

The project illustrates the impact and acceptance of possible instruments for sustainable spatial development and soil protection. Including soil quality in policy instruments is complex, but can contribute towards a more comprehensive protection of soils.

  • Background (completed research project)

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    Providing comprehensive protection for soil as a resource demands policy instruments that combine aspects of soil protection and spatial planning, and that also meet with political acceptance.

  • Aim

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    The researchers analysed the design, impact and acceptance of possible policy instruments. The project contributes thereby to the current debate on suitable instruments for spatial planning and the protection of soil and agricultural land.

  • Results

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    Market-based instruments

    Three possible instruments for soil and land-use policy were fleshed out and modelled for practical use:

    • Fee per square metre weighted by soil quality and degree of urban sprawl (market-based)
    • Quota system of soil index points (market-based if quotas are traded).
    • Construction ban on land with good soil quality (non-market-based).

    Modelling shows that it makes sense to include both a soil indicator and an indicator for urban sprawl. These three instruments have the potential to reduce the consumption good soils. They vary, particularly with regard to potential acceptance, because in the case of the fee, for example, the costs are explicitly visible. With regard to the flexibility still available to spatial planning, the quota system comes out on top.

    Acceptance in spatial planning

    The evaluation of national and cantonal referenda made it possible to identify the determinants for acceptance and summarise ten steps that improve the acceptance of spatial planning instruments. These relate to the particularities of spatial planning policy and communication, among other things. An online survey on the three instruments modelled showed that respondents’ attitudes depended greatly on how well informed they were and the way in which they themselves were personally affected..

  • Importance for research

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    Models of future urbanisation were for the first time tested taking soil quality into account, and the influence of spatial planning instruments on urbanisation was modelled.

    Spatial planning acceptance factors were examined for the first time. The findings indicate that the seemingly similar area of environmental policy differs from spatial planning policy with regard to the factors that influence democratic acceptance.

  • Practical significance

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    The three instruments that were examined should be investigated in greater detail, and form the basis for a policy discussion on instruments that take account of soil quantity and quality. The recommendations for increasing the acceptance of plans for spatial planning (ten-point plan) could be used to support administrators and policy-makers when drawing up such plans.

  • Original title

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    POLISOL – Policy Instruments for Sustainable Soil and Land Use Management and their Acceptance