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Some Dutch history

Construction zones along a historic Dutch military flood-line

Fort bij Rijnauwen, west of Utrecht

The Dutch Kringenwet of 1853 was a law governing structures, earthworks, and horticulture within specific distances of military installations along the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie. This Hollandic Water Line was a thin 85-kilometer area to be flooded in specific manner in event of overland invasion. Concentric zones were to be maintained in varying degrees of free-fire capability.

The Kringenwet (kringen = rings, wet = law) was instituted for the facilitation of the fortress and artillery infrastructure units deployed along the defense line.

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 only permit 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 Ministry of War never altered the Kringenwet of 1853. In 1951, its enforcement was suspended, and in 1963 the law was offically withdrawn. The waterline defensive system itself, which still retains much of its infrastucture, became defunct in the age of military aircraft. Many of the areas formerly protected from development for military reasons are now lush refuge for birds, animals, and flora.