Determinants of land consumption in Austria and the effects of spatial planning regulations
Michael Getzner and
European Planning Studies, 2020, vol. 28, issue 6, 1095-1117
A substantial area of permanently habitable land in Austria is already sealed to be used for residential, commercial, and infrastructural purposes. Although the annual land consumption used for these purposes has slightly decreased over the last 20 years, it is still at an alarmingly high rate. In 1996, the daily land consumption corresponded to over 30 hectares, while it dropped to about 10 hectares in 2016. In this paper the determinants of land consumption were confirmed within the econometric framework of the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). In the EKC it is assumed that there is an inverted-U shaped connection between the GDP and land consumption. In this conceptual framework, the effectiveness of spatial planning frameworks, such as the Austrian Spatial Development Concept (ÖREK), was tested. The results show that, in Austria, there is a general trend towards a decrease in land consumption. The effectiveness of spatial planning frameworks is, however, not discernible from the general influence of an increase in the GDP. Both the increasing scarcity of land (reflected in the increasing land prices) and the increased efficiency of the use of land (as a result of population density and urbanization), contribute to the reduction of land consumption. This indicates that additional and more effective policy instruments, such as brownfield and inward development, land mobilization strategies, higher land taxes and urban contractual agreements are all urgently needed to reduce land consumption to much lower sustainable levels.
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