News on the revision of the maritime spatial plans
In 2009, the first maritime spatial plans for the German exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the North Sea and Baltic Sea came into force. Since then, conditions and spatial demands have changed considerably. Uses such as offshore wind energy are developing more rapidly than anticipated, while demands from traditional uses, such as shipping and fisheries are not diminishing. The sea is also increasingly being used for transboundary infrastructure (cables, pipelines).
The BSH looks back on 10 years of experience with maritime spatial planning (MSP). The first maritime spatial plans provided a reliable framework for the various uses in the EEZ and had a particular impact – also via sectoral planning – on the expansion of offshore wind energy. The revision of the current maritime spatial plans was initiated in June 2019.
According to § 8 of the Spatial Planning Act (ROG), a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the maritime spatial plan is required. This involves preparing an environmental report that describes and assesses the likely significant impacts of implementing the maritime spatial plan on the marine environment. The content, scope and level of detail of the environmental report are defined at the beginning of the SEA process. In addition, a status report on maritime spatial planning was drawn up.
Maritime spatial plan 2021 entered into force
Following an extensive process that included national and international consultation, the new maritime spatial plan came into force on 1 September 2021. The new plan coordinates the various uses in the EEZ, comprising shipping, offshore wind energy, cables, pipelines, raw material extraction, fisheries, research and defence. It reserves areas for individual uses and thus helps to minimise conflicts. A key objective of the maritime spatial plan is to reconcile the above uses with the ecological functions of marine space.
The revision process of the maritime spatial plans consisted of the following steps:
The Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Community (BMI) formally initiated the revision of the maritime spatial plans by informing the public and relevant authorities about the revision process pursuant to § 9 para. 1 ROG. Public authorities had the opportunity to provide information on any plans and measures they intend to take in the EEZ or have already taken, as well as on the time schedule for their implementation.
From September to December 2019, the BSH conducted various thematic workshops and expert discussions on shipping, nature conservation, fisheries, underwater cultural heritage, defence and raw material extraction.
Taking into account the information received and the results of the workshops and expert discussions, the BSH drew up a concept for the revision of the maritime spatial plans. The concept set out three planning options with different areas of focus. At the same time, the draft scope of the SEA was prepared.
A national public hearing to discuss the concept and scope of the SEA was held on 18 and 19 March 2020.
On 17 September 2020, the BSH confirmed the investigation framework for the SEA for the revision of the maritime spatial plans.
Based on the results of the public hearing, the BSH prepared the first draft maritime spatial plan for the German EEZ in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The draft plan was published together with the draft environmental reports on 25 September 2020.
Details can be found in the public announcement (in German).
Further information and the consultation documents (in German) are published here.
Authorities and the public had the opportunity to submit comments on the draft plan and enironmental reports. In addition, a consultation meeting was offered as an online conference on 24 and 25 November 2020.
The BSH revised the draft plan and the environmental reports based on the comments received and consulted with national ministries and departments. In April and May 2021. BMI and BSH prepared a second draft plan based on the results of that consultation.
The national consultation round on the second draft plan was launched on 3 June 2021. Comments on the second draft and the revised environmental reports could be submitted until 25 June 2021.
The international consultation for the revision of the maritime spatial plans for the German EEZ started early in the process in the first quarter of 2020. Details can be found in the notification document which also includes information on the formal procedures (ESPOO) such as timelines and conditions for participation.
On 23 April 2020 an informal online meeting was held to inform international stakeholders on progress of the revision process.
A presentation summarising the revision process and status as well as the minutes of the meeting are available for download in the box below.
The BSH made available translations of the draft maritime spatial plan as well as the environmental reports (see below)in English, Danish and Polish. Authorities and the public concerned in neighbouring countries had the opportunity to comment on the documents until 15 January 2021.
In addition, an international consultation meeting was offered. This took place on 27 January 2021 as an online conference in English. Details can be found in the notification letter.
Based on the results of the national and international consultations in November 2020 and January 2021, respectively, the draft plan and the environmental reports were revised. The departments at national level, affected by the spatial plan, jointly agreed upon a draft plan during consultations rounds in April and May 2021. BMI and BSH prepared a second draft plan based on the results of that consultation.
The international consultation round on the second draft plan was launched on 4 June 2021. Comments on certain amendments of the second draft maritime spatial plan and the revised environmental reports could be submitted until 30 June 2021.
An international information meeting was offered on 15 June 2021 as an online conference in English. Details can be found in the consultation letter.