The subsurface environment is gaining in importance and now plays a key role in issues of public interest such as energy and drinking water supply and securing climate targets. Judicial use of the subsurface can bring major economic benefits, both in financial terms (natural gas recovery, for example) and in the broader sense of economic welfare (protection of ecosystem services). The subsurface environment is vulnerable, though, and certain interventions may conflict with ecological functions. Protecting these vulnerable functions can also have considerable benefits for society, even though it may be impossible to express these directly in financial terms.
A Government Structural Vision on the Subsurface represents a new step towards spatial planning with respect to the subsurface, creating a framework for weighing up the various functions it serves. At the request of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, CE Delft has carried out an exploratory study of the impacts on economic welfare. It considers the impacts of ‘standard applications’ of various subsurface functions in the four scenarios defined in the Strategic Impact Assessment, identifies the interests of the various stakeholders and, where possible, expresses all of these in monetary terms (impacts on economic welfare). The results of this study have been used as input to the draft Structural Vision in tandem with the Strategic Impact Assessment.