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Some Dutch history

Construction zones on a Dutch military flood-line

Fort bij Rijnauwen, west of Utrecht

The Kringenwet of 1853 was Dutch wartime regulation of construction, demolition, digging, and horticulture within specific distances of military installations along the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie.

This New Dutch (Hollandic) Water Line was a thin area to be flooded in specific manner during any potential overland invasion to establish a national redoubt and protect the wealthy North and South Holland provinces. The Kringenwet (kringen = rings, wet = law) was instituted to facilitate military infrastructure units deployed along the defense line — fortresses and artillery. Each of three concentric zones around each of these were to maintain a particular condition of free-fire clearance.

The parameters of the Verboden Kringen were as follows:

• Between 0 and 300 meters, the Ministry of War would have to approve any construction, and then would permit only structures made of wood, reed, or other flammable material.

• From 300 to 600 meters, one could build a foundation of stone up to 50 centimeters high and a chimney — and everything else would have to be flammable.

• From 600 meters to one kilometer, normal construction was legal, but military authorities could order destruction without any consultation or legal recourse.

The waterline defense model became obsolete in the age of military aircraft, but the Ministry of War never altered the Kringenwet until finally suspending enforcement in 1951 and withdrawing the law in 1963.

Much of the infrastucture stands, and many of the areas formerly protected from development for military reasons are now lush refuge for birds, animals, and flora.