A Comparative Analysis of Spatial Planning Designations in North Sea Countries.


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The report is the result of the NorthSEE project. It aims to analyse and compare the spatial planning areas in the North Sea, which resulted to the creation of a common map legend for a better understanding of maritime spatial planning process in this region. 

Sea Basin(s): 
June 2019
Application in MSP: 
Applied in an MSP process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Cross-border cooperation
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Common Fisheries Policy
Habitats and Birds Directive
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Renewable Energy Directive

Questions this practice may help answer: 

  • What are the MSP regulations and systems in the North Sea? 
  • Is the cross-border MSP within the North Sea possible?  

Implementation Context: 

The study is produced within the framework of the NorthSEE project, which aims to achieve greater coherence in the spatial planning processes. 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The study is developed with the aim to address the issue of differences in the planning systems, and to contribute to a better coherence of spatial plans within the North Sea. 


The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) proposed a study to analyse the spatial planning designations. As a first step, existing regional planning regulations and systems in the North Sea Region were analysed. As a second step, a framework to combine and harmonize planning designations and the corresponding map symbology was elaborated.  

Main Outputs / Results: 

It is concluded that the cross-border MSP in the North Sea is possible under the premise of adapted regional planning regulations. This particularly applies to the use of nature conservation zones, in which other activities have to be restricted by preventive actions. The results will represent a starting point for further international discussions on how to increase the coherence between the different spatial plans.


Although the analysis is provided for the North Sea, the methods, results and recommendations can be applied to other marine regions. 

Responsible Entity: 

Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML

Funding Source: 

The NorthSEE project is co-funded by INTERREG V B: North Sea Region Programme 2014 – 2020.