UBA's President Maria Krautzberger said: "Land take is one of the most serious environmental problems in Germany. An area of 66 hectares of new land is used or sealed every day for building – the size of about 90 football fields. The landscape is becoming more and more scattered, the burden on soil and groundwater is growing, the habitats of many species have been destroyed, and traffic is causing more noise and waste gases. Our land consumption is still twice as high as the Federal Government's goal for 2020. It is very clear that we must reduce land take, and we can only do it through a quota system and by introducing binding quantity restrictions."
A nationwide pilot project by UBA involving 87 municipalities trialled a land certificate trading scheme. These municipalities received a quota of free certificates based on their population. Each municipality receives only the number of certificates to cover the amount of land which may be consumed. The certificates allow the municipalities to designate new-build land area outside of areas which are already built up, thus setting limits on the amount of new build area. If municipalities lack the number of certificates needed, these must be purchased from other municipalities.
The pilot project demonstrates that the trading scheme works and effectively reduces land take. Land certificate trading also ensures the prevention of unviable planning, that more inner urban development occurs, and that sites are used more effectively. In particular, municipalities in structurally weak regions with high outward migration even stand to benefit from the cash flow involved in certificate trading, without having to refrain from necessary community development measures.
The results of both projects [Land Take Reduction Action Plan & Pilot scheme in land certificate trading] were presented in Berlin on 23 March to some 120 experts from public administration, science and other practitioners. The Land Take Reduction Action Plan was carried out by the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) in Berlin; the Cologne Institute for Economic Research was the lead consortium partner in the pilot project on land certificate trading.