Maritime spatial planning and land-sea interactions

Michaela Gensheimer

Population density per NUTS2 within catchment 2017 (persons/km2)

Recent years have seen growing competition over the use of maritime space for, among other things, renewable energy generation, aquaculture and coastal tourism.

This growing demand for sea space has put maritime ecosystems under pressure, resulting in poor conditions of Europes seas owing to overexploitation, pollution and climate change. Against this backdrop, maritime spatial planning (MSP) should ensure the more coherent management of human activities in and along the seas (including across national borders).

The European Commission’s Directive 2014/89/EU on establishing a framework for MSP requires all EU coastal Member States to develop national maritime spatial plans by 31 March 2021. As most development and use that takes place in the marine environment also has an onshore component or impact, the MSP Directive requires that land-sea interactions (LSIs) are taken into account in planning processes.

Numerous factors and sector policies shape development on land and at sea, all of which should ideally be considered in an integrated planning process such as MSP. Complex governance settings present another challenge in devising maritime spatial plans.

Furthermore, LSIs differ for each region and their consideration is also relevant in land-locked countries.While much of the interaction between land and sea takes place in the coastal strips, Map 1 highlights how LSIs extend much further across the whole of the European territory.

In addition, different methods can be used to analyse LSIs. Therefore, stakeholders engaged in MSP experience significant challenges in making sense of LSIs.

“we advocate a One Space approach to planning as one possible way of dealing with the complexity of land-sea interrelations within MSP

In our new policy brief on ‘Maritime spatial planning and land-sea interactions (MSP-LSI)’, we advocate a ‘One Space’ approach to planning as one possible way of dealing with the complexity of land-sea interrelations within MSP. This approach considers land and sea as an integrated whole and is, indeed, already applied by many EU Member States. Wider recognition and application of a ‘One Space’ territorial planning approach is seen as a key element in helping to better address LSIs.

To help investigate LSIs in MSP in which maritime sectors and governance considerations are of particular concern, we propose the following incremental approach that has been developed by the ESPON MSP-LSI project (Figure 1). This approach can be applied at various scales of governance and can be helpful for planners working on maritime spatial planning as well as territorial planning.

This approach was piloted in five case studies at local, regional, national and transnational scales, and was refined throughout the ESPON MSP-LSI study. The proposed method provides a way of tackling the LSI complexity in a structured, focused and purposeful way, ultimately enabling recommendations for the good management of LSIs to be developed. It enables a tailoring of LSI considerations to different contexts, by providing a structure that can guide in-depth research or lighter touch investigations, in the form of, for example, stakeholder workshops.

This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL