Out now: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies in Town Planning Law

This book, edited by Stephan Mitschang, grew out of the third meeting of the Platform of Experts in Planning Law held in Berlin, Germany on September 21-22, 2009.

The book’s chapters illustrate the evolution of this unique comparitive land use and regulation forum; they allow a broader audience to benefit from the insights gained from the national case studie presented at the Berlin meeting.

Takings International

A comparative perspective on land Use Regulations and Compensation Rights.

Regulatory takings is the potential raw nerve of land use regulation. This book, by Rachelle Alterman with contributions of several other authors, is devoted to this controversial issue, providing a vast platform of comparative knowledge on direct, indirect, categorical, and partial takings.

Dutch Journal for Construction Law: Building of a large wind park

This year the Dutch Institute for Construction Law celebrates its 40 years existence. In a special issue of the Dutch Journal for Construction Law (Tijdschrift voor Bouwrecht) a case is presnted concerning the building of a large wind park.

Several countries responded to the case: USA, Holland, Finland, Denmark, Poland and Greece. These responses are also published in this special issue.

TBR september 2009

Renewable energies group is launched in Germany

A new organisation promoting the development and use of renewable energies was launched on January 26 in the former German capital, Bonn. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will advise industrialised and developing nations on ways of reducing their dependency on oil, coal and gas. Speaking at the opening event, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the potential for renewable energies is huge, and needs more help to achieve a global breakthrough. “IRENA will be the new mouthpiece for renewable energies,” he said.

IRENA is intended to provide a counterbalance to the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency, by becoming a driving force behind renewable technologies such as sun, wind, water and geothermal energy sources. The organisation aims to facilitate the transfer of renewable technologies to developing countries rich in renewable energy resources, such as sunshine.

Germany, one of the world’s leading developers in solar energy, stands to benefit not just from the environmental do-good factor, as IRENA could lead to lucrative partnerships with developing countries. German Foreign Ministry representative Gernot Erler was quoted by the press as saying that the development of renewable energies would offer economic opportunities, adding that “Germany in particular is well positioned with its outstanding environmental technology.”

Structure Plan Flanders

Update and partial revision in 2009

The implementation of the Structure Plan Flanders (Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Vlaanderen: RSV) is in full swing at al policy levels. Evaluation exercises in recent years have shown that RSV remains a valid policy, especially in the short and medium term. The objectives, principles and vision of RSV remain a useful framework for the spatial challenges of today.


for more information click here (not available in English)

Railway zone development

Speech given by Minister Cramer on 3 December 2008 during the railway zone development conference in Utrecht. The redevelopment of outdated railway station zones can inject a tremendous amount of life into what are sometimes run-down areas, usually characterised by the inefficient use of space. Their location in city centres makes them ideal for housing, shops or other convenient services, including police stations, schools or outpatient clinics.

However, there are problems to overcome. The redevelopment of inner city locations is often quite challenging and expensive. Area residents experience a tremendous amount of inconvenience, and the connections with and accessibility of these locations is often less than optimal. In addition, additional safety and environmental requirements apply due to their location in the centre of town. This includes such issues as noise nuisance and additional fine particle emissions.

For the complete speech click here.

Spatial planning not yet embedded in European policy

Spatial planning is struggling to establish a foothold in the formal policy processes within the European Union. However, the European heritage surrounding spatial planning is increasingly serving as the frame of reference for national planning practices. Particularly the planners themselves hold the key for improvement, says Bas Waterhout of the OTB Research Institute for Housing, Urban & Mobility Studies (TU Delft).

Spatial planning is not a formal European policy field, but national planners are eager to develop a form of spatial policy at European level. The past eight years in particular have seen the further institutionalisation of European planning. In view of the great differences between the working of the sector-based EU and the planning principles developed by the member states, substantial results have been achieved. Since the adoption of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) in 1999, progress has been made in the form of e.g. the creation of a successful research network (ESPON) in 2002, the adoption of the Territorial Agenda for the EU in 2007 and a further detailing of substantive views and ideas. Nevertheless, spatial planning policy documents have virtually no impact on decision-making processes in European policy sectors. The solutions put forward by European planners are recognised but are still perceived to be too abstract for tackling concrete problems. Only the European territorial cohesion policy currently under development appears to be genuinely susceptible to the messages from the planners.

The European spatial planning discourse assumes that giving the spatial perspective a place in the sector policy would facilitate more integrated and better-balanced decision-making: better spatial coordination between European subsidies and more attention for spatial implications of e.g. environmental guidelines such as Natura 2000 and the Air Quality Directive. It is also assumed that spatial structures that cross national borders (nature areas, infrastructure and urban networks) demand European spatial cooperation. It is clear that the EROP and later initiatives have failed to bring about either. However, these initiatives do have influence at national level. This is particularly noticeable in countries and regions with limited planning traditions (Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Portugal) or where a new planning model is being developed (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic). But European ideas are also used as input for spatial planning agendas that are currently being developed in such countries as Denmark and Slovenia.

Waterhout also studied the Europeanisation of Dutch spatial planning. Though the European context has played a role for decades here, the cohesion-oriented EROP has won few plaudits. And the Space Memorandum has actually made Dutch spatial planning policy even less European. The attention at national level is mainly focused on the (undesirable) spatial impact of European directives. The Netherlands has difficulty translating these directives into national law. So this is where the search for possible solutions must start.

To achieve greater impact as spatial planners, the internal cohesion between the parts must improve, both in substantive and organisational terms. In this connection, less attention should be devoted to obtaining internal consensus and more to the forging of coalitions with influential actors outside the network. In addition, planners should demonstrate their added value more convincingly, e.g. by proving via (cross-border) projects that the inclusion of spatial planning in the decision-making process leads to a more coherent policy.

Bas Waterhout, 2008, The institutionalisation of European spatial planning. DUP Science, Sustainable Urban Areas 18. Amsterdam (IOS Press). ISBN 978-1-58603-882-3.

Third conference of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights

The third annual conference of the International Academic Association on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR) – will be held in Aalborg Denmark Feb. 11-13 2009. The Association is targeted to all who are interested in the broad fields that interface between planning and law: academics (or PhD students) in spatial planning, land-use and property law, real estate or related disciplines. Our Association, although relatively new, already attracts participants from all parts of the world.

The Call for Papers and more information can be found inhttp://planninglaw2009.land.aau.dk/. Abstracts are due Oct. 27 2008!. Representative of the Local Organizing Committee at Aalborg is Michael Sorensen tophoej@land.aau.dk

More information about PLPR and membership forms (membership is free!) can be found in:http://planning-law.socsci.uva.nl/. For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Rachelle Alterman, President of PLPR at alterman@technion.ac.il or Dr. Leonie Janssen-Jansen, Vice President at L.B.Janssen-Jansen@uva.nl

Unlocking acces to environmental justice

The need to reduce the costs of judicial review for claimants

Without acces to environmental information, it is difficult to participate in policy and decision-making and a right to participate can be futile, if there is no corresponding right to challenge the legality of the outcome of that participation. Journal of Planning & Environment Law issue 9 2008, p.1233

Article: Progress with Development Plan Documents: Lessons learnt in England?

This article, by Colin Wood, can be found in the latest issue of ‘Journal of planning & environment law’ (issue 3 2008, pp. 245-428)

It is three years since the planning system in Enland was significantly overhauled as a result of the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. It now seems an opportune time to review progress on the new style development plans and see wath lessons, if any, can be learnt from those local planning authorities that have submitted development plan documents for independent examination.