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Developing a framework for integrating terrestrial and marine planning


Development of marine spatial plans for Dorset (England) and Heist (Belgium) and associated materials such as a comprehensive seabed map for Dorset and numerous background studies, studies on tourism and a long term vision for Heist.


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How do we best ensure integration between terrestrial and marine planning?
  • What is the relationship between marine spatial planning (MSP) and ICZM?

Implementation Context

This practice description details one element of the larger C-SCOPE (Combining Sea and Coastal Planning in Europe) Project which had 3 main objectives:

  • A framework for integrating terrestrial and marine planning;
  • Tools for achieving sustainable coastal economies and environments; and
  • Stakeholder engagement to achieving commitment to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)

The project was in part a way to test the principles for MSP as communicated in the European Commission’s “Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving Common Principles in the EU” published in 2008, prior to the development of the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, and recognising that MSP would be required in coming years.

The local political context and governance regarding marine development influenced the project and the type of marine plans which emerged. The main aim of the Belgian plan was to establish a spatial vision for the future use and development of the beach and the marine area, in order to address their major single issue at the land-sea interface: the growth of the offshore sandbank, and its effects on the local economy. The political situation also prompted the decision to establish an expert group to drive the marine planning agenda forward in Belgium which acted to assess state of MSP in Belgium and influence federal government via a position paper on MSP in Belgium.

In Dorset the C-SCOPE project was initiated before the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act had been given royal assent, although it was clear that marine planning would focus on sustainable marine development, Offshore wind development within the MMA was also a strong possibility and the global economic downturn had started to have an impact in Dorset which consequently reinforced the decision to develop a marine plan for sustainable development. The Dorset MMA therefore served as an unofficial pilot for national marine planning.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Produce a framework for an integrated approach to land and sea planning and management.
  • Provide practical case studies of integrating across the land-sea interface.
  • Develop comprehensive information resources to underpin sustainable coastal management.
  • Provide a test case for implementation of the principles of MSP in the EU.


Each partner selected a Marine Management Are (MMA) at different scales which represented a range of habitats, activities and potential conflicts to act as a pilot study. The Belgian partners chose an area covering 47km2 within the Bay, between the West side of the Port of Zeebrugge and the beach of Duinbergen, called Knokke-Heiste MMA.

Knokke-Heiste Marine Management Area (blue line) selected by Belgian partners for the project


The Dorset MMA is representative of the lower levels of development and competition for space in the UK, compared to Belgium. It covers 953km2 and includes the urban and industrial areas of Weymouth and Portland including the Port as well as the rural Purbeck coastline. The inland limit was undefined to ensure all relevant data and issues were included in the marine plan.

Dorset Marine Management Area


A comparison of the different contexts and features of the MMAs is provided in the table below (presented in the final report of the project).



UK EEZ covers 773,676km2 with 17,820km2 of coastline. Competition for marine space

exists in some areas and is increasing, but still many undeveloped areas at sea and  on the coast.

Belgian EEZ covers 3457km2, with 65km of coastline. Intense competition for marine resources and land space which is scarce.


Marine plan for sustainable development

Spatial vision for coastal development at Knokkw-Heist focussed on single issue (sandbank)

Undefined inland boundary, seaward area out to 12nm covering 953km2

Coastal land (beach) and adjacent marine area, covering about 47km2

Largely rural coastline, one major town

Densely built up urban area

Relatively low pressure on marine environment – no aggregates, major shipping lanes, pipelines, cables, offshore wind

Intense use within the land/sea interface, presence of major port and shipping lanes, altered sedimentation leading to sandbank and consequent conflict between nature reserve and water sports club

Tourism/recreation major sector

Tourism/recreation and harbour major sectors


Extensive data collection was undertaken to inform the full CSCOPE project, including review of existing spatial data, commissioning of new studies where gaps were identified, baseline inventory on current conflicts and issues (through stakeholder interviews, etc.) among others. Of particular relevance to the objective of this project (integrating across the land-sea interface) relevant plans and policies applying to this area were collated and reviewed to ensure compliance.

Pilot marine plans were developed for both areas, with a number of studies and analysis completed to fulfil the overall objectives of the CSCOPE project.

Main Outputs / Results

The final reports and materials relating to the CSCOPE project are available on line ( and include:                                                                                                                  

Joint Reports

  • Key messages from the C-SCOPE Project
  • A summary of key messages from the C-SCOPE Project
  • C-SCOPE Reflections. Stakeholder views on the C-SCOPE Project (video)

For Belgium (documents researched):

  • 'Maritime Spatial Planning in Belgium - Analysis of the period 2000-2011.pdf'
  • Position paper 'The North Sea in Belgium – High time to live up to the opportunities'
  • Framework study for the "Baai van Heist" and the sandbank at Knokke-Heist West/ Basisanalyse voor de Baai van Heist en de zandbank in de zone Knokke-Heist West (only available in Dutch)
  • Socio-economic study tourism and recreation for Knokke-Heist West / SOCIO-ECONOMISCHE STUDIE VAN TOERISME EN RECREATIE TE KNOKKE-HEIST WEST (only available in Dutch)
  • Leaflet sandbank Heist: the sand bank of Heist, a fascinating phenomenon/De zandbank voor Heist, een boeiend fenomeen (only available in Dutch)
  • Process document long-term vision Knokke-West West: description of the process and results of stakeholder involvement (available only in Dutch)

For Dorset:

  • C-SCOPE Marine Plan (High-res - 150 MB)
  • C-SCOPE Draft Marine Plan Responses and Actions


The pilot projects provide a number of lessons which are applicable in other planning contexts. Much of the character of the projects were related to the prevalent conditions and issues faced in that particular settings, however the experience provides useful reference material for the development of MSP in general, particularly relating to the complex issues of land-sea integration.

The major lessons were that this integration remains a challenge, with issues faced in co-ordinating between marine and terrestrial planners, particularly in aspects such as agricultural and urban run-off, terrestrial landfall of offshore developments, land-based infrastructure to support ports, and coastal town regeneration.

The governance and planning regimes tend to be different, and the lack of consistency and different responsibilities / authorities across the land and sea make coherent planning challenging. Early engagement between marine and terrestrial planners is seen as important in order to develop common understanding and bridge the gap. Additionally, synchronising the timing of terrestrial and marine planning and review periods would also increase consistency.

Contact Person

Coordination Centre on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Belgium

E-mail: (info[at]kustbeheer[dot]be)

Contacts: (kathy[dot]belpaeme[at]kustbeheer[dot]be); (Hannelore[dot]maelfait[at]kustbeheer[dot]be); (Sylvia[dot]theunynck[at]kustbeheer[dot]be)


Dorset Coast Forum

E-mail: (dorset[dot]coast[at]dorsetcc[dot]gov[dot]uk)

Contacts: (k[dot]buchan[at]dorsetcc[dot]gov[dot]uk); (b[dot]betts[at]dorsetcc[dot]gov[dot]uk); (ness[dot]smith[at]dorsetcc[dot]gov[dot]ukv)

Responsible Entity

Combining Sea and Coastal Planning in Europe (C-SCOPE) is a European collaboration between the Dorset Coast Forum (DCF) and The Coordination Centre on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Belgium

Costs / Funding Source

EU INTERREG IV A ‘Two Seas’ Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 and part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund). Direct costs of its elaboration are unknown.