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The European environment – state and outlook 2010

The European environment – state and outlook 2010

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Land - Outlook to 2020 (SOER 2010)

Three policy scenario’s with increasing levels of ambition and their effect until 2030 in the Flemish Region.

Key message

If current legislation would remain unchanged, the increased demand for houses and business premises will ensure a further expansion of the built-up areas.

The Environment Outlook 2030 for Flanders by the Flemish Environment Agency describes developments in the sectors of the economy, and the consequences thereof for the pressure on and quality of the environment. The Nature Outlook 2030 by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest concentrates on the consequences for the quality of the environment and the use of land for biodiversity.


The Environmental Outlook 2030 investigates how the quality of the environment might develop in Flanders and what impact policy could have on this. The future developments have been depicted using three policy scenarios with increasing levels of ambition:


  • The reference scenario investigates how far the current environmental policy reaches.
  • The Europe scenario investigates what may be required to realise the European ambitions concerning climate change, air quality and   water quality in the medium term.
  • The visionary scenario investigates how the environment may be safeguarded for present and future generations1.

The population growth steers the future land use in Flanders to a great extent.

  • In the reference scenario, the increased demand for houses and business premises ensures a further expansion of the built-up areas, by 17 % in the period from 2005 to 2030, or almost 7 ha/day. This is primarily at the expense of agriculture. The urbanisation primarily increases along the major roads. In this respect the developments for housing and trade within a distance of 450 m from major roads will be 21 % higher in 2030 than in 2005. As a result, exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise will increase. In general, exposure to traffic noise and the number of potentially severe nuisances will increase for Flanders.
  • In the Europe scenario, the urbanised surface area also expands, by 13 % between 2005 and 2030. Smaller building plots ensure greater density with greater opportunities to preserve open spaces. The risk of flooding as a result of climate change is at the same level as with current land use. The Europe scenario absorbs the increase in population and additional housing needs better than the reference scenario.


1 For land use, due to a lack of information, the visionary scenario was not developed in the Environmental Outlook 2030. This report only investigates the reference scenario and the Europe scenario which both expect an increase in the built-up area.