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7th Ministerial Conference:
East West Window:
TALLINN REPORT: Annex 2 - Coast protection legislation in the baltic sea regionMost Baltic countries have provisions in their legislation to protect the coastal strip from activities which would affect nature and change the landscape. Coast-bound activities like harbours and existing settlements are often excluded. The aim of this legislation is partly to ensure free access along the coastline for public recreation and nature conservation, partly to protect the coast from erosion. The width of the protected strip varies from 100 to 300 meters from the shoreline landwards. In two countries (Sweden, Latvia) there is also an off-shore protected strip. In two countries (Denmark, Germany) there is also general legal protection of certain biologically important habitats, among them many coastal habitats. One country (Sweden) has provisions in the law for such protection, but the provisions have not yet been implemented.
Denmark. The Nature Conservation Act of 1993 contains protection lines for the coasts. Basically, the regulations have been the same since 1937. According to the Act (§15) one is not allowed to change the state of the coastal strip for 100 meters from where the continuous vegetation starts. The protection strip widens to 300 m along open coasts, summer cottage areas excepted. A commission will establish the exact protection line during 1994-97.
The Act prohibits new buildings or other construction as well as fencing, and location of camping and similar activities on the protected belt. The most important exceptions are constructions for military purposes and harbours. Existing farming is also allowed to continue in the protected strip.
The planning Act of 1993 defines, as part of the physical planning process, a 3 km wide belt along the coast is considered as having national interest. The regional and municipal planning in the coastal zone must be carried out so as to ensure that the coasts are only used for the functions which can only be located in connection with the coast and for recreational purposes. Areas for new urban areas and technical plants, etc. can only be laid out if documentation can be presented in support of planning or functional arguments for near-shore location. Laying out new summer cottage areas is prohibited and holiday and leisure facilities can only be built in accordance with coherent political considerations regarding tourism for the whole area. Finally, a general requirement applies for ensuring and improving public access to and along the coast. In addition, through their local planning the municipalities are put under an obligation to ensure that concrete building and construction words in the near-shore areas are designed and adjusted to the coastal landscape in accordance with the coastal strategy. The local plan must provide information about the visual effect on the surroundings.
It is also of importance for some coastal areas that public forests and private forests of more than 20 hectare be protected from building and similar activities. Neither is it allowed to build nearer than 300 m from such a forest (§17).
In 1993 there were in Denmark 194.000 summer cottages.
Planned use of the coastline (km):
Estonia. Rules for the use of the coastal strip have been set up in the Government Decree on Shore Protection in 1992. The decree is regarded as a temporary solution. It will later be replaced by an act.
The decree aims mainly at protection of the shore landscape and prevention of water pollution from land-based activities. The decree (§14) establishes a strip of generally 100 meters from the coastline within which building is prohibited. On the big islands Saaremaa and Hiiumaa on the west coast, the protected strip is 200 meters. Some shore-bound activities like harbours are excluded from the prohibition. The protected strip can be enlarged or made narrower by decisions of the local authority on rather loose grounds.
Finland. Neither the Nature Conservation Act of 1923 nor the Planning and Building Act of 1958 include any provisions for shore protection. In their building by-laws the municipalities can stipulate the minimum distance from the water line when new houses are built. Most rural municipalities require a distance of 20-30 meters, but saunas are excluded.
The Finnish law is based on the landowner’s right to dispersed development. The owner is considered to have a right to build 4-5 buildings per kilometre shoreline. He can also prepare a shore plan for the area and thus get up to about 10 summer houses per kilometre.
The municipality can prepare a mater plan for a larger shore area. Where such plans have been made on the coast they have usually been based on 5-8 building sites per kilometre shoreline on the mainland and 3-5 in the archipelago. The planner can try to transfer these building rights within a landowner’s area so that some shores are left free and others developed more densely. This is, however, difficult or even impossible when the land is divided into small ownership units, which most often is the case on the Finnish coast.
If the state or a municipality wants to prevent the above mentioned dispersed development, it has to buy the land and pay the market price for the speculative building rights. The coastline in Finland is approximately 179 000 km long. About 30 - 70% of it is suitable for use as recreation areas. The variations reflect regional differences.
Particularly near cities and population centres the shores are “closed”. (The shore is closed, when there are one or more buildings/200 m shoreline.) Urban aggregates and activities make the shores difficult to use. The seacoast is more problematic than lake shores.
The shoreline protection programme was approved by the Government in 1990. It comers 98 stretches of lake shoreline and 29 stretches of coastline. The total length of the latter is 4% of the entire Finnish coastline.
In 1990 there are about 360000 summer cottages in Finland.
The Province of Aland has its own legislation, but except for the lack of shore plans as a planning instrument, it is basically the same as in other parts of Finland.
Germany. Neither the Federal Act on nature Conservation nor other federal legislation includes specific rules for the protection of the coastal strip. The issue is considered a matter for the states (Länder).
In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the First Nature Protection Act from 1992 declares (§7) that building construction may not be erected or essentially enlarged within a 200 meter wide strip from the coastline including the “bodden” bay shores (Aussen- und Boddenküste).
In Schleswig-Holstein the Nature Conservation Act, amended in 1993, stipulates (§11) on protection strips for water protection and recreation. The protected strip is 100 meters from the shoreline on all coastal waters.
In both states the nature protection authority is entitled to grant exemptions in certain cases and under certain conditions. These exemptions mostly refer to shore-bound activities like harbours, water sports, bathing etc. or they are made within existing settlements. A building plan under preparation can form the basis for an exemption. The law in Schleswig-Holstein sets a specific condition for an exemption that the existing or future possibilities for public recreation near the water and the coastal habitat structure are not endangered.
In Germany the federal and state planning and building legislation contains many provisions by which an effective control of development can be achieved and which are relevant for the protection of the coastal zone. Generally speaking, construction of new buildings outside settlements or areas covered by a building plan is only permitted for some “privileged projects” like farm buildings, buildings with public supply functions (energy, gas, water supply, communication) or some construction which have to be erected outside settlements because of harmful effect on people. Other projects can be permitted in single cases, but only if public interests like nature and landscape protection are not affected.
Latvia. The Law on Environmental Protection, adopted in 1991, contains provisions for a protected belt along the shore of the Baltic Sea and the Riga Gulf (Art. VIII). Most of the Latvian coast consists of sand beaches with coniferous forest. The aim of the protected belt is to preserve all the protective functions of the forest, to conserve the littoral landscape and to provide sustainable utilisation of natural and recreational facilities in the littoral zone.
The Act declares strict protection on a 300 meter wide belt starting from the water-edge and including the beach and coastal formations (dunes, coastal sand shores and sand hills) directly above the slip-off (abrasive) slope. Where the dune or other coastal formation exceeds 300 meters the protected zone is extended to its natural boundaries, for instance to the point where the dune ends.
A 300 meter wide protected belt is also established from the water-edge in the off-shore direction to conserve the underwater slope of the shore and the dynamic processes there.
These protected belts are taken into consideration in planning and any activity within the littoral zone, including drawing of master plans and development projects for towns and villages. The protected belt borders are marked on the land use maps.
Among the activities which are prohibited within the protected belt the Act mentions construction of buildings including recreational centres, camping sites and sports facilities outside existing populated places, extraction of minerals, clear-cutting of forest and cutting of impressive solitary trees.
Lithuania. There is no general legal protection of the coastal strip. The short Lithuanian coast (94 km) is mainly urban areas, already protected areas or former military areas. Development is allowed only according to land-use plans (master plans, development projects for towns and management plans for protected areas).
Natural watercourses, high bogs, fens bigger than 0,5 hectares, as well as natural meadows and pastures are protected wherever they exist. The use of forests in a
1-7 kilometres wide zone is specially regulated, including for instance a prohibition of privatisation.
There are plans to compile the draft for a Marine Environment Protection Law with more detailed provisions concerning the protection of the coastal strip.
Poland. On the open sea coast 68,6% of the shoreline belongs to protected areas. Of this 10,5% is within national parks or nature reserves where all the natural features are protected. The rest consists of landscape parks and protected landscape areas where new buildings and other development is strictly restricted.
The administration of the Polish coast is a task of the Maritime Offices under the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Economy. The shoreline consists of a technical belt and a protective belt. On dune shores the technical belt embraces the beach, the dune ridge and a belt up to 200 meters behind the dune ridge. On cliff shores it consists of the cliff foot, the cliff and a belt of land up to 100 meters from the upper edge of the cliff. On lagoon shores it includes the land between the shore and the flood embankment or - in areas without flood embankments a belt up to 2000 meters in width.
The protective belt, which is considered the natural reserve of the technical belt, extends to 2 kilometres from the shoreline. The boundaries of both belts are marked in the terrain.
Russia (Kaliningrad). The Law on Environmental Protection, adopted in 1992, contains provisions on the location, construction, reconstruction and exploitation projects in protected areas or recreational zones. There is no general legal protection of the coastal strip. Development is allowed only according to land-use plans (for example, limitation of agriculture land use in a 1km zone). Proposals for the use of the coastal strip were prepared in 1993.
Sweden. The Nature Conservation Act of 1974 includes provisions on general protection of the shoreline (§15-16). The aim is to safeguard public access to the water for bathing and other kind of recreation.
The protected belt is generally 100 meters from the mean water mark both inland and offshore. The Provincial Governments can, where it is needed for the aims of law, enlarge the protected belt up to 300 meters from the shoreline in both directions. It can also, if an area is of no importance for recreation, exclude the area from the shore protection.
In the protected belt it is prohibited to construct new buildings, change the use of existing buildings, extract substances from the soil and build fences which could prevent people from walking along the shore. Constructions necessary for farming, fishing or forestry (but not dwelling-houses) are excludes from the shore protection.
The Act concerning the management of natural resources etc. gives general management regulations concerning how and for what purposes land and water areas shall be used, and gives guidelines for the resolution of conflicts of interest. It also gives special management regulations for specific areas of Sweden - so-called chapter three areas- incorporating large parts of the Swedish coastal area.
In Sweden there are about 670 000 summer cottages.
Even if the coastline is long, there are not endless possibilities for houses and industries. Research in the 1960`s showed that 50% of the coast in Sweden (except Gotland and Norrbotten) do not have natural qualifications for recreation. Of the rest, 40% was impossible to use because of buildings, in the first place summer cottages.
- Cities and towns 705
- Use of raw material 39
- Summer cottages 660
- Farming 129
- Holiday - and leisure buildings 172
- Farming with interest in nature 1063
- Manufacturing with special location demands 11
- Nature area 2577
- Windmills 82
- Coastline, total 5438