In 1992, The Netherlands signed the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, also known as the Treaty of Malta. The belief that archaeological heritage matters in decisions about environmental planning has been a basic principle of governmental policy ever since. In 2007, the treaty was enshrined in the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act (Wet op de Archeologische Monumentenzorg).
The principles of this Act are:
- Aim for in situ preservation of archaeologically valuable remains;
- During the environmental planning phase, the possible presence of archaeological remains should be taken into account at an early stage, so that there is still time to look for archaeologically friendly alternatives;
- The ground-disturbing party is responsible for the expenses of archaeological research and documentation when in situ preservation is not possible.