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Some Dutch history

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Construction zones along historic Dutch military flood-line


Fort bij Rijnauwen, west of Utrecht

The Dutch Kringenwet of 1853 made stipulations governing structures and earthworks within certain distances of military installations along the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, a thin 85-kilometer-long line engineered to be flooded on command in defense against overland invasion.

The Kringenwet (kringen = rings, wet = law) was instituted for the purpose of maintaining open firing ranges within specific distances of the fortress and artillery infrastructure units.

This "ring-zone law" specified allowances for all building, landscaping, and horticulture within three distances from any fort or artillery along the "waterline."

The parameters for 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.

• Within the second ring, from 300 to 600 meters, one could build a foundation of stone up to 50 centimeters high, and a chimney — but 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 In 1951, its enforcement was suspended, and in 1963 the law was offically withdrawn.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 and animals.

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