During the conference on Denmark’s land use in the future, hosted by the Danish Board of Technology Foundation and The Danish Parliamen’s Committee for Environment and Food, the final report met with a favorable reception by the participating politicians and organizations. The politicians from the Danish Parliament and municipalities all recognized the need for reconsidering the great many wishes and plans for future utilization of areas, and the 12 recommendations of the projects were thoroughly discussed.
By Jørgen Madsen, Manager Information, Danish Board of Technology Foundation
If one were to add up all the approved plans for development, goals and expectations for the future utilization of Denmark’s land use , it covers a full 140% of the land available. The Danish Board of Technology collaborated with Aalborg University on the project ‘Prioritization of the future use of land use ’, addressing this challenge as it focuses on the great number of activities which takes place out in the open countryside and which presents the main challenge, regarding the available Danish land use. These activities include agriculture, new forms of energy, natural resorts, infrastructure, forest management, open air leisure activities and much more. This project, funded by The VELUX FOUNDATIONS, has spent two and a half years debating the possibilities for co-existences and the future balance between interests in the open countryside.
Conference at Christiansborg
Throughout the process, this project had extensive contact to citizens, politicians, stakeholders and experts, and the numerous representatives from these groups have played a significant part in the process. On two preceding Parliamentary hearings and a citizens’ summit, citizens voted on a number of questions which became the starting-point of the conference at Christiansborg. Furthermore, the projected had as its pivot the connection to a particular future-panel, made up of members of the Danish parliament, from all the different parties. At the conference, two panels had been arranged; one consisted of members of the Danish parliament, including members of the future-panel, and four mayors as municipal representatives, while the second panel was made up of experts from the project’s own steering committee.
The recommendations of the project
The steering committee reached the conclusion that there is a great need for new types of development-plans which are designed to match the specific locality while remaining flexible. The Government should lay down the official guidelines which will provide the municipalities with the opportunity to choose specific areas for specific development purposes, e.g. vulnerable areas where nature and agriculture might work well together or areas where development or out-phasing is necessary. Finally, the steering committee stressed the importance of the distribution of land, e.g. the rearrangement and merging of open areas.
The most essential recommendations of this project fall within 12 topics:
- Common goals and official guidelines for a governmental, national strategy concerning the open countryside.
- Solutions focused on the local entirety, based on a strengthening of municipal methods
- The establishing of a plan committee for law inspections, intended to improve the managing of the open countryside.
- Subsidies should promote the desired development in local areas.
- Energy production: biogas made from agricultural residual products and greater energy efficiency achieved while scaling back the size of area used to produce it.
- Climate adaption combined with rehabilitation of nature, recreational areas and leisure-time activities.
- A green map of Denmark: Appointing adjoining nature reserves and green passages in collaboration with the government, municipalities and stakeholders.
- The balance of forest policy between production of timber, energy, environment and undisturbed forest must be determined.
- Public funds for and distribution of land could provide improved connected fields and disengage nature for e.g. forests or other purposes.
- Agriculture and environment should have access to better maps of the earth’s ability to absorb and contain nutritional components.
- Planning the subdivided use of the open countryside according to local goals and directives.
A municipal wish list
The municipalities suggested that these recommendations could contribute to local planning through inspection of laws and a strengthened focus on green reconversion. Furthermore, a clearer governmental responsibility of publics interests, e.g. the out-phasing of fossil fuels and the establishment of sources for renewable energy were requested. The recommendations for multifunctional solutions and the possibility for establishing a public pool of funds for buying up land, intended to change land use met with great support.
The participating politicians more or less agreed on the necessity of a law revision and some form of plan committee in order to successfully manage and process the numerous wishes concerning the use of the open countryside. However, several drew attention to dilemmas such as improved tools for municipal management on the one hand while never losing sight of the entity on the other. Another dilemma is whether the local authorities can manage the development, perhaps with the exception of prioritized areas for the installation of windmills and establishing large integral green areas, which is preferably to be a governmental task.
As chairman at the conference, former MP Steen Gade asked the participants how we are to move forward. Real Danias’ Helga Grønnegaard would support a new plan on long-term solutions for a sustainable development and for multifunctional use of the open countryside. Torben Juulsager, Landinspektørforeningen (The registered land surveyors association), emphasized the concepts ‘local entity solutions’, ‘dialogue’ and ‘sustainability’ as positive, based on previous experience, and pointed to planning and the distribution of land as essential tools. He focused on strong national politic statements, challenges across municipal borders, establishing an area and plan committee, the possibility for public purchasing of land and lastly the financial sector. Lars Kaalund, Local Government Denmark, found the report to be inspiring and a great basis for further development. He would like a clearer vision for projects which integrate several elements and work with climate, environment, leisure time, wetlands and more nature across areas and sectors, with the support of Christiansborg. Allan Andersen, Landdistrikternes Fællesråd (Joint Counsel of the rural districts), supported the recommendations of the project as well, and further stressed dialogue as a key concept of the local collaboration with the municipalities.
- Download the report ‘Prioritization of the future use of Denmark’s land use on tekno.dk (38 pages)(in Danish)