Short Reads

Salinization: Do lawyers have a role?

Salinization: Do lawyers have a role?

Salinization: Do lawyers have a role?

14.10.2019 NL law

Salinization has become an issue of considerable importance for present and future generations alike. Salinization of land and water is increasing worldwide due to climate change alongside poor water and land management, and the effects are becoming more visible; threats to agriculture, the environment, and drinking water.

Experts claim we are only in the starting phase of the problem, as salinization is linked to several other problems, including soil subsidence, rising sea levels, and a shortage of fresh water. Although worldwide many researchers from other disciplines are researching this problem, and asking how this problem can be dealt with, soil  and water salinization has so far received minimal attention in legal scholarship. Moreover, many interdisciplinary projects have been and are being started while professionals from the legal discipline are rarely included – even though the role of the law in the context of salinization is undeniable. This blog is a first step in reviewing the role of law, which can be an instrument to prevent or mitigate the effects of salinization, but can also form an impediment to preventing or delaying the problem.

What is salinization?

The salinity process depends on various factors and can occur both via ground and surface water, resulting in internal and external salinity, respectively. It is an increasing problem, particularly for the agricultural sector in many countries. Also, in the Netherlands, the effects are becoming more visible. In our country, large areas of land are situated below sea level and include historical tidal zones. In these areas, salt water is present in the subsoil. During summer droughts, the fresh water present on top of this salt water is depleted, leading to capillary rise of salt water and damage of topsoil and crops. The effects were particularly visible in the coastal areas of the Netherlands during the very dry summer of 2018. The effects of soil salinization will only increase as climate predictions feature excessive precipitation during some parts of the year, and droughts and shortages of water during other parts of the year.

Potential measures

Just as there are various causes of salinization, there are also numerous potential actions to mitigate the effects or adapt to the effects. These include adaptations such as the modification of crops and the testing of existing crops for their salt tolerance, and prevention, for example ensuring sufficient amounts of fresh groundwater and the limitation of activities which could further negatively affect the soil. Several private and public actors are involved in and influenced by this issue, adding to its complexity. Future analysis should address those potential measures, as well as several legal questions which can be raised, including the following:

  • What are the options for the national and regional governments to limit the effects of salinization?
  • What are the legal possibilities and limitations in general?
  • Are the options offered by current legislation and regulations optimally utilized?
  • Are adjustments required to the current legislation and regulations?

In fact, the law can play an influential role when addressing the issue of salinization. There are several legal questions which legal professionals may take into account. These questions include whether the law could be used as an instrument to prevent or delay the further development of salinization by, for example, prohibiting actions with a negative effect and stimulating actions which have a positive effect. Moreover, the question should be considered to which extent the law could pose an impediment to prevent or mitigate the effects of salinization, which solutions have been proposed and implemented in other countries and if these can also be implemented in other countries, and which rights and obligations surround this worldwide problem.


This first blog aims at creating awareness. Future work will make it more concrete in which way and to what extent the law and legal professionals should be included in analyzing solutions to the problem, mitigating the effects of the problem, adapting to the problem, or compensating the effects of the problem.

This blog is an adjustment of an abstract (Annalies Outhuijse, Ida Helene Groninga, Tatia Brunings - A Legal Perspective on the Effects and Prevention of Salinization) which was presented at:

Related news

14.02.2020 EU law
Does your everyday cleaning product qualify as a 'biocidal product' under European legislation?

Articles - On 19 December 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on the concept of 'biocidal product', as defined in article 3 of Regulation 528/2012 on the making available on the market and use of biocidal products, in a case on a cleaning product primarily used "to ensure the absence of mould". According to the CJEU, the concept of ‘biocidal product’ is to be interpreted broadly, hereby also broadening the scope of application of Regulation 528/2012.

Read more

12.02.2020 NL law
Van inspraakverordening naar participatieverordening op decentraal niveau

Short Reads - De regering stelt voor om de reikwijdte van de decentrale inspraakverordeningen te vergroten naar de uitvoering en evaluatie van decentraal beleid. Dat staat in een conceptwetsvoorstel dat op 9 december 2019 ter internetconsultatie is voorgelegd. Het conceptwetsvoorstel beoogt een wijziging van onder meer de Gemeentewet, de Provinciewet en de Waterschapswet.

Read more

12.02.2020 NL law
Het oproepen en horen van getuigen in het bestuursrecht: hoe zit het ook al weer?

Short Reads - Het oproepen van getuigen en het horen daarvan ter zitting door de bestuursrechter heeft de Hoge Raad in zijn arrest van 15 november 2019 overzichtelijk in kaart gebracht. Dat arrest, dat door de belastingkamer in een bestuurlijke boetezaak is gewezen, is ook voor andere terreinen van het bestuursrecht van belang. Mede ook omdat het horen van getuigen buiten het fiscale bestuursrecht nog in de kinderschoenen staat. In dit bericht bespreken we daarom de mogelijkheden die er bestaan om getuigen te (laten) oproepen en hoe de bestuursrechter daarmee moet omgaan.

Read more

12.02.2020 NL law
Omgevingsrecht en mobiliteit: hoe werkt het afwijken van parkeernormen in bestemmingsplannen?

Short Reads - Op grond van artikel 3.1.2, tweede lid, Bro kan een bestemmingsplan ten behoeve van een goede ruimtelijke ordening regels bevatten waarvan de uitleg bij de uitoefening van een daarbij aangegeven bevoegdheid afhankelijk wordt gesteld van beleidsregels. Van deze mogelijkheid maken gemeenteraden in hun bestemmingsplannen vaak gebruik als het gaat om parkeernormen

Read more

This website uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential for the technical functioning of our website and you cannot disable these cookies if you want to read our website. We also use functional cookies to ensure the website functions properly and analytical cookies to personalise content and to analyse our traffic. You can either accept or refuse these functional and analytical cookies.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring