Story 3: How Lithuania resolved an old problem and achieved a good outcome for three sectors
During the planning process in Lithuania, it became apparent that a newly established biosphere area overlapped with a military training area. There was a third overlap in the same space with an old dumping site for dredge spoil which had been there for a long time. The dumping site had always caused some inconvenience, as dumping always had to be aligned with naval training exercises. Sometimes, training exercises even had to be rescheduled as a result of the overlap. Relocation therefore seemed a triple win situation that would benefit the Port Authority using the dumping site, the Navy and also conservation.
Two round table meetings were held with the Navy to explain the issue and suggest the relocation of the military training areas. The MSP process came at the right time for this problem and presented a good opportunity for addressing an historical inconvenience. The topic was also discussed with the Port Authority who were supportive of relocation and keen to avoid any further overlap of potentially conflicting areas.
In return for their willingness to move their training area, a larger area was suggested to the Navy that was away from natural assets and offered them greater freedom for military exercises. In the new area, there would be no seasonal limitations to specific activities (shooting, explosions, diving etc.) due to nature conservation regulations.
The newly proposed areas were mapped and provided both to the Navy and Port Authority for review and approval in a third-round table discussion. When all sides agreed, the new coordinates of the military training polygon were submitted to the Navy and Ministry of Defence for formal approval. The entire process went very smoothly and was completed even before the maritime spatial plan was ready and adopted.
Although changing an area takes some effort and formal procedure, it was taken very positively by all those involved. The key to success was proper communication in the sense of explaining the benefits and finding common arguments for all involved so that everyone wins. The style of communication was also selected very carefully. Planners were asking for opinions and advice and never presented ready solutions. This allowed the Navy and Port Authority to feel respected and valued in decision-making rather than asking them to adopt something that was decided without their participation. Planners managed to present this exercise as an opportunity and never as an obligation.