Amendment to the Benelux Convention On Nature Conservation And Landscape Protection (groundwater damage)

Filename: 8921-1983-Amendment


Decision (M(83)26) of the Committee of Ministers of the Benelux Economic Union on mutual assistance for determining damage caused by transboundary effects of groundwater abstraction

The Committee of Ministers of the Benelux Economic Union,

Having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Benelux Convention on Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection, M (81) 4 signed in Brussels, 8 June 1982 and entered into force on 1 October 1983, and Article 8 of the Union Treaty ,

Considering that during the Third Benelux Governmental Conference, held in Brussels on 20 and 21 October 1975, it was decided that consultation and cooperation on groundwater extraction in the border areas must be seen as a concrete objective for an active Benelux policy,

Considering that the Consultative Interparliamentary Benelux Council on 14 June 1974 forwarded to the three Governments a recommendation concerning possible damage to agriculture caused by drinking water production,

Whereas, in the context of that objective, it is important to remove the obstacles that may arise with regard to the possibility of assessing damage in the event of transboundary effects of groundwater abstraction in border areas,

Considering that this will in particular benefit the interests of those who, in order to establish their claims for compensation for such damage, have to follow the administrative or civil procedures prescribed by the applicable national law,

Has decided the following:

Article 1

For the purpose of investigating claims for compensation for damage on one side of the Belgian-Dutch border caused by groundwater extraction on the other side of that border, a permanent Mixed Damage Commission, hereinafter referred to as the Commission, is established.

Article 2

1.Each Government concerned appoints three members to the Committee, including a chairman and their deputies.

2.The Presidency of the Commission is held alternately and for a period of 3 years by the Heads of Delegation.

3.If desired, the Commission may be assisted by experts.

4.The Commission shall adopt its rules of procedure.

Article 3

Anyone who believes that they have suffered damage caused by groundwater abstraction on the other side of the border can apply to the Commission with a reasoned written request to investigate this.

Article 4

1.The Commission will initiate an investigation as soon as possible.

2.If the Committee is of the opinion that the request is missing information which is necessary for the investigation and which can reasonably be provided by the applicant, it will inform the applicant of this as soon as possible and with reasons, setting a period within which the applicant has the opportunity to provide the missing information.

3.If the term referred to in the previous paragraph is exceeded, the request will be rejected, except in the event that the Committee sees the need to set a further term.

Article 5

1.The Commission shall also reject the request if, within three months of receipt of the request, it considers that there is no reasonable ground to suspect damage caused by groundwater abstraction on the other side of the border . The notification to the applicant, rejecting his request, will be made in writing and with reasons.

2.If, on the other hand, the Committee is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for such a suspicion, it will inform the applicant of this as soon as possible. In that case, the Commission will continue its investigation as soon as the applicant has undertaken in writing to pay the costs associated with that investigation, insofar as they are charged to the Commission, from the amount of compensation to be determined by amicable settlement or court order that he will receive from the groundwater extractor who caused the damage.

Article 6

1.The Commission sets out its findings on the transboundary effects of groundwater abstraction and on the type and extent of the damage in a report that is sent to the applicant.

2.If, in the opinion of the Committee, damage has been caused by a groundwater abstraction on the other side of the border, it shall also send its report to the person by whom it considers that the damage is caused, as well as to both Governments.

3.In the case referred to in the second paragraph, the report of the Committee shall be accompanied by a draft agreement for the purpose of an amicable settlement. This design concerns the amount of damage to be compensated as well as any measures to overcome, limit or prevent further damage.

Article 7

1.Any Government concerned shall make available to the Commission, at its request, the assistance of the technical or administrative services under its jurisdiction which are competent for the abstraction of groundwater in each territory.

2.The services referred to in the first paragraph shall make available to the Commission, at its request, the technical data available to those services by virtue of their involvement in groundwater abstraction, insofar as this information can reasonably be considered to be of importance for determining the consequences of the groundwater abstraction and the extent of the damage.

Article 8

Each Government concerned authorizes the Commission to conduct its own investigations on the spot of groundwater abstraction and in the area over which the consequences of the groundwater extraction may extend.

Article 9

Each Government concerned shall ensure that the competent authority for the granting of permits attaches to permits for groundwater abstraction, the transboundary consequences of which can reasonably be expected, the requirement that the permit holder carries out the necessary observations of the groundwater level at his own expense, on the same basis as when the consequences arise. would only extend across national territory.

Article 10

1.This Decision shall enter into force on the date of signature.

2.Within six months of that date, both Governments shall report to the Committee of Ministers on the measures taken to implement this Decision. The text of the national implementing measures will be attached to this report.

DONE at Brussels, this 17th day of October 1983.

The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers,

(Signed) C. BOTTLE