Town Planning Review

Spatial Strategies at the Land–Sea Interface: Rethinking Maritime Spatial Planning, University of Hamburg, 11–13 September 2019

Town Planning Review (2020), 91, (3), 343–348.

Details Cormac Walsh Conference report Spatial Strategies at the Land–Sea Interface: Rethinking Maritime Spatial Planning, University of Hamburg, 11–13 September 2019 Introduction and background 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). Experience to date, however, indicates that MSP occupies a different institutional and policy space to land-based terrestrial spatial planning. MSP has emerged within a marine management context and for the most part constitutes its own epistemic community, at a distance from current developments and debates in spatial-planning research and practice on land (Jay, 2010; Kidd and Ellis, 2012). Although MSP is becoming established as a formal policy instrument applied in a coordinated manner across Europe, European terrestrial spatial planning has reached an impasse, with a discernible shift away from ambitious spatial strategies at national and regional scales (Salet, 2016). Furthermore, as policies and practices of integrated coastal-zone management are displaced through a focus of attention on MSP, there is a risk of a ‘new coastal squeeze’ where the land and the marine become institutionalised as distinct policy spaces (Shipman and Stojanovic, 2007, 389; Walsh and Kannen, 2019). There is, however, increased recognition of the contested context of competing interests, perceptions, values and world views within which MSP is practiced (e.g. Flannery et al., 2018). Kidd and Shaw, in particular, critique the dominant instrumental view of MSP as a rational, technical process of universal applicability, contending that marine spatial planning is ‘a social and political process that is inevitably highly differentiated and place-specific’ (Kidd and Shaw, 2014, 1536). Jay (2012; 2013) has more specifically critiqued the spatialities underlying current MSP practices, calling for relational perspectives in place of functional zoning. More recently, he has explored Dr Cormac Walsh is Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Hamburg, Institute for Geography, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 Hamburg; email:


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Author details

Walsh, Cormac