From: Reuters
Published December 20, 2007 12:38 PM

EU ministers stall new soil protection rules

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers put new rules to protect soil in the bloc on a backburner on Thursday after a coalition led by Britain and Germany blocked the adoption of a draft law.

The bill had sought to prevent the soil's deterioration from industrial use and the effects of climate change. It would have obliged the EU's 27 nations to set up public inventories of sites where soil may be contaminated with dangerous substances and lay out ways to clean them up.

"There was a blocking minority against the soil directive. Maybe we will return to it in the future, but it is unclear when," an EU diplomat said.

The diplomat said advocates of the planned law had failed to muster a qualified majority to adopt it when Britain, Germany France, Austria and the Netherlands voted against.

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They argued that existing national schemes to protect soil are sufficient and the EU need not interfere.

The rules would have required countries to identify priority places where soil needs protection from erosion, landslides, desertification and other threats.

(Reporting by Marcin Grajewski, editing by Richard Williams)

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