The Linner Loop is situated along the River Maas/Meuse in the Province of Limburg, Netherlands. This area initially began to be dredged in the 1920s by the Dutch Railway Company for railway ballast pebble, with the subsequent extraction of sand and gravel for the construction industry.
The site was historically restored to a mix of pasture land which has subsequently been over-fertilised, non-native poplars and small, steep-sided lakes. An ecological survey undertaken revealed that the restored site supported very little biodiversity, with only a handful of notable species recorded including beaver, buzzard and wild marjoram.
Restoration / Priority Habitats
Mosaic of wetland habitat
Limburg Landscape Foundation
Landgoed Osen Foundation
Province of Limburg
City of Roermond
Reduced flood risk
During the historic workings, a vast majority of material - amounting to 10millions tons - was not extracted from the site and Ballast Nedam put in for a planning application to re-work the area. In preparation of the application, the company undertook a rigorous assessment of the needs of the relevant stakeholders. The relevant stakeholders and their interests in the site are listed below:
The Limburg Landscape Foundation already owns 25% of the Linner Loop, with the aim of transforming the lakes into a more attractive habitat and to link up with the neighbouring nature reserves.
The Landgoed Osen Foundation – a family owned trust fund who sold the 150ha estate to Ballast Nedam.
Province of Limburg – within the council’s development programme the Linner Loop has been identified as an area for habitat creation to connect existing areas of nature conservation value.
The City of Roermond is interested in the tourism aspect of the site and the recreation potential of area of open water for boating.
Rijkswaterstaat, the Waterways Authority, closely monitors water flow within the River Maas and is a key consultee in development that could potentially affect it. With the challenges that climate change brings - both drought and flooding - a number of projects are being initiated to widen the riverbeds to increase water storage /capacity.
A large number of residents overlook the Linner Loop and appreciated the landscape value of the historic restoration and were concerned about the prospect of further extraction.
Planning Application Process
Work began in 2004, starting with negotiations with the former landowner and the Limburg Landscape Foundation. Between 2005 and 2007, all the desktop research and associated fieldwork was undertaken, with a draft design taken to board in 2007. Legislation in Limburg dictates that no new gravel concessions are to be granted unless the project offers multiple benefits to the community. For the ‘New life to the Linner Loop’ project, the identified benefits include: Ecological connection zone, improvement of biodiversity (dynamic river system), reducing flood risks and enhancing tourism around the Roermond Lakes.
An initial restoration plan was drafted for the Linner Loop. A number of alternative plans were then drawn up addressing each of the stakeholders’ interests.
With such a large variation in different aspirations/ desirables from stakeholders regarding the restoration plan for the Linner Loop, a ranking system of the different options was required to assist the development of the final design. A matrix was used to judge the effects of each different restoration scheme and rank the alternatives. It took a lot of negotiation to finalise a design that satisfied all the stakeholders.
From this, a final restoration plan was realised in 2012, allowing the relevant planning permits to be obtained. Before extraction works began in Summer 2013, the ownership of the estate was transferred from Ballast Nedam to the Limburg Landscape Foundation, which will oversee the restoration works and ongoing management at the site.
The information set out within this advisory sheet in no way constitutes legal or regulatory advice and is based on circumstances and facts as they existed at the time Nature After Minerals compiled this document. Should there be a change in circumstances or facts, then this may adversely affect any recommendations, opinions or findings contained within this document