|Environmental Handbook Volume I: Introduction, Cross-sectoral Planning, Infrastructure (GTZ/BMZ, 1995, 592 pages)|
|1. Spatial and regional planning|
1.1 Definition of terms / delineation of sector
The terms spatial planning and regional planning are used to denote (integrated) area planning1) which covers all sectors and is carried out at regional level by the authorities working hand in hand with national development planning and policy bodies. Regional planning relates to a sub-national planning area with delineation criteria which can be geographical, administrative, based on economic policy or specific to given problems.
1) The term will be construed and used throughout as a generic term for spatial and regional planning.
This brief is a general text for the overall planning of the various sectors (planning of locations, transport and traffic planning, energy master planning etc.). It includes many cross-references to environmental briefs dealing with the existing and potential environmental impact of projects in individual sectors. Besides affecting those sectors, their impact is also particularly important in the fields of 'forestry planning', 'raw materials management', 'mineral extraction (guideline planning)' and 'urban development planning'.
Area and regional planning projects interfere with natural resources due to:
- emphasis placed on economic aspects of development planning (area development and housing structure planning, infrastructure planning)
- function allocations, area allocation and scale of land-use (type and intensity) and the resulting land-use pattern (area and land-use structure)
- location and scale of land-uses and individual projects; influence on existing and future pattern of land-use
- influence on regional policy decisions (e.g. through allocation of financial resources).
Such interventions have an impact on the environment (cf. section 2.3).
1.2 Tasks and functions
Integrated area planning identifies and assesses both land-use potential and the scale of land-use requirements in terms of their character and geographical distribution or allocation. Integrated area planning is designed to cover all sectors and should accordingly perform the following functions:
- regulatory functions: control of land-use through allocation to particular functions, restrictions on land-use and, where applicable, the imposition of conditions so as to avoid or minimise conflicts and risks and optimise potential, through choice of location and other factors.
- coordination functions: reconciliation of individual and sectoral objectives and measures (compatibility, congruence, internal consistency etc.) to meet regional objectives of programme planning (identification of conflicting objectives).
- information functions: acquisition and processing of data on specific problems as the basis for performing the above-mentioned functions and for policy consultation purposes (preparation and justification of regional policy and development policy decisions, e.g. on the allocation of financial resources and manpower, assistance programmes, investment subsidies etc.).
Besides these tasks, institutionalised regional planning can also play an important part in mediating between national and any local planning bodies or interested parties which may exist, with the aim of upholding regional in favour of national interests.
Furthermore, regional planning (programme planning) can also help to coordinate and synchronise programmes of various sponsoring organisations by establishing general conditions and incentives.
Thanks to the cross-sectional approach2) (regulation and coordination), regional planning by its nature has the effect of relieving environmental burdens (e.g. by confining burdens to particular areas), but in view of the environmental problems being faced, planners must give priority to dealing with problems of the environment and resource management3)
2) The cross-sectional approach is regarded as a strength of integrated planning as compared with sector-specific planning
3) cf. also the approaches described in Integrated Regional Developmemt Planning (DRD 1984); 'Economic-cum-Ecological Planning' and 'Regional Environmental Development Planning (ADB 1988)
- in rural areas concentrating on the problem of changes to the ecosystem and the threat to existence posed by irreversible degradation resulting from inappropriate forms and intensities of land-use;
- in urban/industrial areas concentrating on problems of atmospheric emissions endangering human health, either directly or through contamination of the natural systems on which life depends, and problems of environmental rehabilitation and renewal. Here the aim must be to develop rehabilitation programmes (housing, transport, waste disposal) on the basis of maximum permissible immission levels, reducing current levels of emission and avoiding as far as possible any increase in these levels as a result of further housing and industrial development.
1.3 Status and constraints
(Integrated) area planning still has comparatively low status in many countries. The reasons for this are:
- a whole range of general conditions running counter to area planning, such as an inadequate legal framework, a lack of procedural regulations, lack of financial resources, absence of environmental awareness, shortage of manpower etc.;
- the highly complex nature of general planning activities4) which is often difficult - if not impossible - to overcome, because of a lack of political continuity or because of unpredictable changes in terms of general conditions (e.g. through natural disasters, civil war etc.);4) Scheduling the requisite preparatory and accompanying planning measures in numerous social, economic and policy fields as well as public relations and consultancy work
- the relative difficulty in implementing area planning measures in the face of opposing economic interests or overuse of the ecosystem in the struggle for survival. Inadequate monitoring of compliance with planning requirements and the failure to punish offenders undermine area planning measures and hinder their implementation in the political and administrative fields.
- the lack of political priority afforded to regional planning in particular, mainly because of planning, administrative and decision-making structures which are centralised and specific to individual sectors, denying regional planning its proper institutional status. To improve the status of integrated area planning it would be necessary
- to improve currently inadequate financial and manpower provisions, particularly at lower levels,
- to broaden the limited areas of competence and responsibilities,
- to strengthen powers to exert authority and take decisions and
- to encourage its incorporation in the administrative structure (cf. section 3).
Last but not least, constraints in the planning process, for example due to lack (i.e. inaccessibility or unavailability) of information, in terms of content, impede realistic problem analysis (causal research, reciprocal effects), the production of realistic forecasts and, where the relevant political and financial factors are out of synchronisation with each other, place question marks over the regulatory, guiding function of area planning and the production of development forecasts.
Besides the restrictions on area planning already mentioned, attempts to take environmental aspects into account are hampered by further constraints, of which the following are examples:
- widespread poverty and deprivation, rendering environmental protection considerations an apparent luxury, at least in the short term,
- absence of environmental awareness (ignorance of the problems) among planners, political decision-makers and those affected, and/or a lack of environmentally acceptable alternative courses of action,
- a lack of manpower and expertise for the assessment of ecological issues, particularly in rural areas,
- the ineffectiveness of area planning measures5) aimed at resolving environmental problems in the face of national or international economic interests and dependencies (e.g. over-exploitation of tropical hardwoods; growing of cash crops etc.).
5) Inadequate implementation, ability to monitor and/or punish offenders
Against this background both the range of tools for ecological planning outlined in section 2 (which must incorporate breadth and depth) and the premises for the promotion of area planning and incorporation of environmental aspects (section 3) must be adapted to local problems and circumstances.