Evolution of Walterre
The decree of the Walloon government on the management of excavated soil (the so-called BWR Terres) has been in force since 1 May 2020. Since then, the Walterre team has been working hard on soil management, including systematic traceability and quality control of the soils to be removed from construction sites. Let's take a moment to evaluate the activities of this new non-profit association.
The decree imposes a number of new measures for the management of soil, including the systematic traceability and quality control of the soil removed from a construction site. Pursuant to a concession agreement, the non-profit vzw Walterre is now the supervisory authority guaranteeing this traceability, thus ensuring that the entire process takes place in a legally correct manner, and with respect for the environment. Reminder: the non-profit was founded by various institutions, including COPRO, which monitors its independence and impartiality, the Belgian Construction Confederation (represented by the Walloon Construction Confederation), the Walloon Federation of Road Works Contractors (FWEV) and Immoterrae S.A., which applies the expertise acquired by the Grondbank in Flanders.
Specifically, the Walterre team was formed at the beginning of September 2019. Initially it consisted of 3 people: the director and 2 dossier managers. In October 2019, an assistant to the director was hired to handle the administrative tasks. Because the number of dossiers rose sharply due to the entry into force of the regulations in May 2020, 2 additional dossier managers were hired on 1 May.
- Between 1 January 2020 and 1 November 2020, Walterre issued 1,100 Soil Quality Control Certificates. The certificate guarantees that the soil has been properly analysed according to the applicable protocols;
- Since 1 May 2020, Walterre has issued 807 Transport Documents permitting the transportation of the soil from a construction site to a collection centre or receiving site.
And that’s just the beginning. In the Walloon Region, an estimated 10 million tonnes of excavated soil are transported annually, corresponding to a total volume of 5.9 million m³.
But it has not all been easy and the association has had to overcome many challenges and obstacles!
Major challenges included the complexity of the regulations and the industry’s lack of interest in the new measures, making their implementation difficult. However, Walterre has undertaken actions to address these, such as creating complete guides, distributing informative videos, providing webinars and online training ... Walterre aims to properly inform all actors in the market, so that they can correctly take the necessary steps.
Moreover, the decree stipulates that all steps must be taken digitally. Following the example of the regulators in Flanders, Walterre uses an IT platform that centralises all requests and allows the soil to be traced. This has exposed the famous digital divide that is so often talked about. Walterre was forced to conclude that many in the sector were unable to work properly with the digital tool and therefore refused to use the system. As a result of this finding, Walterre has organised training courses and changed a number of things to simplify the steps, such as simplification of the platform and the creation of a help desk for actors in the sector.
As a concession holder of a public service under the supervision of the Walloon government, Walterre regularly passes on feedback from users and the sector to the various government institutions and business federations. In the short term, Walterre aims to obtain the cooperation of the sector by drawing up guides and adapting protocols to make the regulations easier to apply. The system aims to give the relationships between the different actors (builders, contractors, remediation companies, recycling companies ...) greater legal certainty and enable the thoughtful development of soil management plans that benefit everyone and contribute to greater respect for our environment.