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Identification of transnational planning criteria


This report summarizes the knowledge gathered on planning criteria for shipping and offshore energy in the context of MSP in the Baltic Sea. Main findings were made in course of discussions during project meetings, stakeholder consultations and expert interviews. 

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

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are the different planning criteria used for linear infrastructures (namely shipping and energy) in the countries surrounding the Baltic sea?
  • What are the differences in the legal backgrounds for the planning of shipping and offshore energy in the Baltic Sea?

Implementation Context

The EU Interreg project Baltic LINes focus on the topics of shipping and offshore energy in the context of transnational MSP. Work package 4 concentrates on the identification of planning mismatches for these two sectors in border areas and collects methods how these could be avoided or solved. Planning criteria and their (different) application in different countries are of high relevance when trying to find the source for mismatches and to be able to suggest planning solutions. 

Aspects / Objectives

The goal of this report is to present the different planning criteria and their application in different countries in order to be able to find the source for mismatches and suggest planning solutions.


After the introduction part, legal aspects and international regulations are presented to form the general basis on which planning of shipping and offshore energy is accomplished. The third chapter introduces the most commonly used planning criteria and describes the different national approaches for the planning of shipping and offshore energy in the context of MSP. The conclusion summarizes the findings of the paper and gives advice on how to approach transnational planning of shipping and energy to obtain greater coherency now and in future. The paper is complemented by two guidelines that were developed by the project partnership: “A practical guide to the planning of ship corridors in Maritime Spatial Planning” and “A practical guide to the planning of offshore energy in Maritime Spatial Planning”. The guidelines suggest step-wise approaches for the sectoral planning and aim to help planners in the MSP draft phase. 

Main Outputs / Results

For shipping, this report provides an overview of the parameters that are of importance for the designation of shipping areas in MSP. The study focuses especially on the transfer of IMO routing measures to MSPs, the definition of corridor widths outside of IMO regulated areas and the designation of safety margins.

For energy, the report focuses on both the offshore wind energy planning criteria and the offshore energy grid and cables. The study presents that there is no common understanding of the factors that need to be considered when planning and designating new locations for offshore wind farms (OWFs). During the project, a list of 40 different factors that have found to be relevant for both assessing wind energy potential at sea and actual spatial planning of OWFs was established. These criteria are for instance: 

-  Cost of energy (consists of factors that influence productivity and costs of building wind energy i.e. wind speed, distance to shore and water depth) 

-  Hard constraints (e.g. other wind farms in operation or in construction etc.) 

-  Soft constraints (e.g. shipping and fishery) 

-  Regional electricity demand 

-  Potentials grid links to the continental power system 

-  Local employment and growth stimulation 

-  National targets for CO2 reduction and renewable energy deployment 

A conclusion on the variety of criteria is that there are several aspects that need to considered, but as OWE is rather new topic in many countries, methods and approaches are not stabilised. There are not any existing international bodies who would take the role of developing common sets of criteria. 

As regards offshore energy grids and cables, the technical suitability seabed conditions are the most important issue to consider. On the other, hand ground conditions do not cause a real obstacle to the laying of cables. It is more a question of the technique of cable laying/ cable securing. From the shipping sector perspective, it is, for example, necessary that cables are buried as deep as possible or secured by rock dumping. 

Several uses are also particularly to consider when planning cable corridors: 

  • Shipping
  • Natura2000 areas and sensitive biotopes/ habitats
  • Pipelines
  • Military exercise areas, esp. exercise areas for submarines Cultural heritage sites, for example wrecks
  • Sand and gravel extraction 
  • Offshore Wind Farms Fishing grounds
  • Dumping grounds
  • Munition 

For the definition of cable corridors, space is needed for the cable itself and its laying, and for a safety zone around it to ensure sufficient space for potential repairs, space at cable crossing areas (secured by dumped rocks) and/or specific distances in case of parallel routing with other uses need to be considered. Necessary distances between cables and other uses depend on the water depth, site- specific ground conditions and technical required distances for cable laying and cable repairs. Regarding the question of appropriate distances, guidelines of the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) and the European Subsea Cables Association (ESCA) can give helpful advice. As for offshore energy cables, the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) recommends that existing cables in shallower waters (up to a depth of 75m) are given a default 500m exclusion zone on either side. The actual distance varies between single countries. In general, offshore renewable energy infrastructure and cable corridors should be integrated whenever possible to maximize concentration of sea uses. 

Different tables are provided in this report, summarizing the main planning criteria for shipping and energy in the Baltic Sea countries (see example below). 

Example of table summarizing the main planning criteria for shipping and energy in the Baltic Sea countries


Responsible Entity 

German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH)

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Costs / Funding Source

BalticLINes project, funded by Interreg VB Baltic Sea Region

Contact person

Riku Varjopuro, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE);
Annika Koch, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH);