Events 12 May 2000
Drawing the conclusions from the TERRA programme
ideas on spatial planning
"Terra has shown the value of, and need
for, strong local participation at all levels of a project on sustainable spatial
planning. This involvement makes regional development policy both tangible and
Frank O'Gallachoir, SRUNA project director at the
Dublin regional authority.
Between 1997 and 2000 SRUNA brought together
Irish and Swedish partners with a view to creating new ways of preserving and
developing their respective regions. To that end, local actors in Dublin and in
the Swedish region of Skåne made comparative studies, prepared databases
and used the latest techniques for gathering and processing geographical data.
SRUNA project was undertaken within the framework of the Terra pilot programme,
developed by the European Commission and co-financed by the European Regional
Development Fund. Terra gives local and regional actors the opportunity to design
and test new approaches to sustainable spatial planning. It therefore involves
elaborating policies which take account of the environment, economic development,
local competitiveness and future generations. This laboratory also makes it possible
to assess the appropriateness of the ideas put forward in the ESDP, the European
Spatial Development Perspective, a document which contains the policy objectives
and options for managing the Community's territory, approved by the Council of
Ministers in Potsdam in May 1999.
Launched three years ago, Terra had an
ERDF budget of EUR 40 million, making it possible to fund 15 projects in 11 countries
of the Union. They concerned primarily coastal areas, river basins, areas at risk
from erosion and rural areas located in the Objective 1 regions. These measures
mobilised 63 local partners who marked the end of the programme with a meeting
in Brussels on 12 May 2000 to draw lessons from their shared experience.
Vertical and horizontal partnership
of the main lessons drawn from these three years is undoubtedly the importance
of involving the social and economic players.
As Frank O' Gallachoir says:
"In some cases Terra established a genuine contract between the
administrators and local people so that a common vision of local and regional
planning could be produced on an agreed basis".
has the involvement of local people had on the regional and national political
"It is interesting to note that working from the bottom
up sometimes results in a reversal of the traditional decision-making processes.
The decision no longer has to come from the top down to be valid. When local people
become actively involved, the politicians follow their lead, take decisions accordingly
and work to obtain financing."
Does an experiment like Terra
strengthen cooperation between the inhabitants of different regions or are the
geographical and linguistic barriers too high?
"Borders or languages
are not necessarily the hardest barriers to overcome. Two neighbouring regions
can have appreciably divergent needs at times. When regional planning is seen
in more global terms, collaboration certainly encourages the search for consensus,
thus making it possible to avoid certain conflicts."
Sustainable spatial planning is not incompatible with
regional competitiveness; it is in fact a necessary condition for it. Javier Elizalde
of the Castilla y Léon region directed the Duero/Douro project which introduced
common management of the river from northern Portugal to the centre of Spain.
The Douro, instead of separating the two countries, has brought them together.
The Spanish and Portuguese partners have managed to dovetail cooperation on transport
and on urban, cultural and natural assets, particularly with a view to improving
the tourist potential of the regions along the river.
As Javier Elizalde
"Regional competitiveness also depends on integrated regional
planning where cities strengthen their links with the countryside so that both
can draw on their respective strengths. Open access to infrastructure and to knowledge
is also essential to the development of rural and disadvantaged areas."
future of Terra
Three years of trials indicate that the involvement
of local actors still needs to be studied in greater detail and that a lack of
expertise can sometimes slow down the progress of the projects. In addition, establishing
networks and genuine partnerships requires substantial financial resources and
a relatively long preparation period. Terra has fulfilled its role of test-bed,
enabling new ideas to emerge and ways of thinking to develop. The programme has
also encouraged improved interregional collaboration and has proved the need for
coherent spatial development. These lessons will be of use to promoters of Interreg
III and Urban II projects, since these two initiatives (as well as the Objectives
1 and 2 programmes) will draw on the lessons of Terra in the 2000-06 period.
Terra report analysing the three years of this innovative measure is available
on the Inforegio website Inforegio and
from DG REGIO's Information Centre
Fax: +32 2 296 60 03