Spatial Strategies at the Land-Sea Interface: Rethinking Maritime Spatial Planning
11-13th September 2019, University of Hamburg, Institute for Geography
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 15th July 2019
Under the EU Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive adopted in 2014, Member States are tasked with the preparation of maritime spatial plans by 2021. These plans are required to ‘take into account land-sea interactions’ and ‘should aim to integrate the maritime dimension of some coastal uses or activities and their impacts’ (EU 2014, 138). Accordingly, inshore territorial waters must be included within either marine spatial plans or land-based spatial plans where they extend beyond the coastline (EU 2014, 140, Article 2:1). Contemporary and future challenges of climate change adaptation, coastal erosion and sea-level rise underline the need for visionary and inclusive spatial strategies at the coast (O’ Riordan et al 2014, Walsh 2019).
Commencing operation in 2021, a new tunnel will provide the final piece in the jigsaw linking the city of Hamburg in Germany to Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden which together form the STRING region. This fixed link will complement the existing bridge crossing the Öresund strait between Denmark and Sweden which opened to traffic in July 2000.
The Fehmarn link, together with related investments in the connecting road and rail transport networks in both Denmark and Germany is of game-changing significance for the economic geography of Northern Europe bringing Scandinavia another step closer to the centre of Europe. Significant economic benefits are expected at the regional scale as new opportunities for cooperation, trade and tourism emerge. At the local level, however, negative impacts are anticipated as other trade and passenger routes become less competitive and potentially cease operation. The tunnel alone will not bring about economic, social or cultural integration.
Indeed a wide range of political and economic cooperation initiatives are already actively seeking to build the required ‘mental bridge’ and turn the Fehmarnbelt Region into a reality . The commitment of political, economic and administrative actors was demonstrated in force through a series of events held between 26th and 28th September in Lübeck and Hamburg. The so-called Fehmarnbelt Days included an official dinner where the European Commissioner for Transport was the guest of honour along with senior policy-makers from Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
Other events however had a more public focus with an ‘Idea Factory’ with over 300 participants and many opportunities for networking among businesspeople and development organisations. Perhaps the most important lesson from the Fehmarnbelt Days and the associated cooperation initiatives is that the prospect of the fixed link has already provided the impulse for closer cooperation in economic, cultural and social political spheres which indeed to a large extent does not depend on the tunnel itself.