Rich in Resources but Poorly Managed?
Planning Removes Valuable Resources from Future Extraction
Germany is a country rich in natural resources (cf. KALI Compact June 2013). In order to secure a supply with domestic resources continuous exploration of new deposits is indispensa-ble. Increasingly, however, resource extraction has to compete with other land use interests. As a consequence, planning removes many valuable deposits from future extraction: by settlement and industrial development plans, transport infrastructure, but primarily due to the designation of special protection areas – such as within the scope of the European natural protection scheme Natura 2000. In some federal states, more than 60% of the states’ surfaces are protected areas, while only 0.5% of the entire German surface is actually used for resource extraction.
The fact that in a densely populated country such as Germany different interests compete for land use options is not generally objectionable, as long as there are options available for escaping the dilemma: it should be possible to weigh the various of use options against each other, and to give preference to the most intelligent solution. It is therefore objectionable that in many cases it is not even possible to consider different options, as the outcomes of these considerations have already been predetermined: at the expense of the raw materials industry, as this industry is heavily stigmatized as an `exploitation of nature´. Preference is generally given to nature conservation interests, as if this were in itself a `law of nature´.
A Secure Provision of Raw Materials is Necessary
The protection of nature is doubtlessly beneficial and important. A secure supply of raw materials, however, is indispensable to our society. It is therefore necessary to include deposits of raw ma-terials in regional planning programs. The German raw materials and raw materials processing industries require greater planning and investment reliability, as the exploration, planning and operations in connection with the extraction of natural resources demand considerable advance investments. According to EU-Commission assessments a period of eight to ten years between the discovery and the actual extraction of raw materials is not considered unusual – if a mining permit is granted at all. Approval procedures definitely need to be simplified and streamlined.