14% of the total surface area of Flanders is paved. The Flemish Environment Minister Joke Schauvliege (Christian democrat) told VRT News that “Currently rain often goes straight down the drain rather than being absorbed into the soil”.
"This often results in flooding when there is heavy rain as the drains are unable to cope with the amount of water. In addition to this concrete and tarmac retain heat, meaning that it becomes cooler less quickly in the evening”, Ms Schauvliege added.
The Environment Minister hopes that the new measures will go some way to remedy this. Not only private citizens but also for example schools that decide that their yards should go green will be entitled to a grant of as much as 250,000 euro.
The Leuven University hydraulics professor Patrick Willems praises the measure “Very many people aren’t bothered about the issues caused by our desire to pave everything over. The only way to remedy this is to offer these kinds of financial incentives. This is a measure that we have been calling for a long time. This is an important step to bring down the percentage from 14% to the percentage of paved area there was at the end of the 1980’s, around 10%”.
"It is of course a first measure. By 2040 we have the planned “concrete stop. But this is an important step, also as regards promoting awareness”.