The PlanCoast project

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PlanCoast aim and structure

PlanCoast is an EU INTERREG IIIB CADSES project which aimed to encourage a practical debate on Integrated Maritime Spatial Planning (IMSP) amongst planners and provide hands-on tools for its implementation at various spatial scales. Led by the Mecklenburg–Vorpommern Ministry of Transport, Building and Regional Development (Germany), and running from 2006 to 2008, it brought together spatial planning and environmental departments and responsible regional authorities, from Albania, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the Ukraine, with the specific aim of providing good practice examples and tools for effective integrated planning in coastal zones and marine areas. The project also sought to raise awareness of the potential benefits of IMSP amongst policy-makers and the planning community.

PlanCoast output

A central output of the project is the PlanCoast Handbook (Schultz-Zehden et al. 2008, download from [1] ), written for planners and other stakeholders involved in maritime planning, ICZM and other forms of marine management. The handbook outlines the purpose and benefits of IMSP and describes several steps that are necessary for implementing IMSP. The handbook is based on contributions from all PlanCoast partners and therefore reflects a wide range of experiences, settings and backgrounds. Although PlanCoast focused on the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Sea coast, the lessons learned can be applied in other contexts too.

PlanCoast key messages

The PlanCoast partners drew up the following key messages for successfully implementing IMSP in practice:

1. Carry out a regular stocktake of coastal and marine uses and maintain an updated database of uses and their impacts.

2. Prepare integrated and constantly updated maps of marine spatial uses everywhere (ongoing spatial observation/monitoring).

3. Prepare integrated maritime spatial plans only where and when needed.

4. Make full use of participative planning by applying informal tools such as moderated meetings, working groups and media.

5. Draw up a national strategy for integrated offshore development which:

  • is based on a guiding vision,
  • considers land and sea,
  • is coordinated cross-sectorally,
  • is tied into international developments,
  • may be further refined in regional strategies (allowing for a nested approach),
  • is revisited and revised at regular intervals.

6. Help create the legal framework for IMSP by:

  • identifying basic policies that rule coastal and offshore developments,
  • operationalising existing laws and strategies through directives,
  • preparing and adopting specific maritime legislation for offshore areas

7. Improve quality, comparability and accessibility of spatial data by implementing the EU INSPIRE Directive and agree on systematic information exchange by:

  • Linking coastal and marine data collection
  • Bringing together coastal and marine data collection and data management in one institution
  • Formalising data flow: creating a regularly updated coastal and maritime cadastre.

Collect data according to need:

  • For monitoring of trends and sea uses collect relevant data regularly and continuously
  • For case specific planning in limited sea areas, collect data according to most acute spatial problems

8. The phases of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) can be used to structure the IMSP process. Introduce Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA) as extension of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for projects.

9. Maritime Spatial Plans should be considered as a basis for all sectoral decisions. Make clear that IMSP is more than a technical exercise – it is a political responsibility. For this, political awareness-raising is necessary.

10. New institutions may not be needed …

  • … but existing ones may need to be improved
  • Clear responsibilities need to be assigned
  • There should be one co-ordinating body.

Use different levels for different tasks:

  • International level: agree common regulations
  • National level: responsible for overall framework
  • Regional level: cross-sectoral agencies to take the lead in implementation
  • Local level: case specific solutions, acute conflict resolution, controlling

11. Improve the effectiveness of cross-border consultation for offshore development plans and projects. Use and strengthen transnational co-ordinating bodies, develop transnational concerted plans for offshore infrastructure corridors and integrate existing project results and recommendations into international policy.

See also

Marine Spatial Planning - the need for a common language

Further Reading

BALTCOAST 2005: BaltCoast Project Recommendations (short version), online at

Commission of European Communities 2007: An integrated maritime policy for the European Union. Brussels, 10.10.2007 SEC(2007) 1278. Online at

Gee, K. et al. 2006: Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM): Strategies for coastal and marine spatial planning – the role of spatial planning and ICZM in the sustainable development of coasts and seas. Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs (BMVBS) and Federal Office for Building and Spatial Planning (BBR). Final Report, Berlin, October 2006 .Download in English on

PlanCoast 2007: Climate change and growing sea use pressures: solutions offered by Maritime Spatial Planning. Documentation of the 4th PlanCoast conference held in Berlin on 21 November 2007. Online at

Schultz-Zehden, Angela et al. 2005: The Role of Spatial Planning in ICZM. Findings and Recommendations from the Interreg III B BaltCoast Project -Executive Summary. Online at

UNESCO (2006) VISIONS FOR A SEA CHANGE. Report of the First International Workshop on Marine Spatial Planning. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Man and the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France, 8-10 November 2006. See also

External Links

The main author of this article is Gee, Kira
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Gee, Kira (2019): The PlanCoast project. Available from [accessed on 27-01-2023]