Shoreline planning

Finland has applied special planning procedures to control land use and development along the sensitive shores of inland lakes and the Baltic Sea since the late 1960s.

Approximately 25 % of Finland’s shorelines are now covered by local master plans which control building permits.

According to the Land Use and Building Act, new buildings may not be constructed along shores except where this is expressly permitted through local detailed plans or local master plans that also control development in shore areas. If no such planning permission exists, developers have to apply for exceptional building permits.

Shore plans aim to control shoreline development, with due consideration given to factors such as nature conservation, landscape protection, the recreational use of shores, and the need for landowners to be treated equitably.

The plans also clarify procedures related to building permits. In recent years fewer exceptional building permits have been granted.

Shores covered at different planning levels

Land use and development along shores are controlled at the provincial level through regional land use plans, and at the municipal level through local master plans and local detailed plans.

Regional land use plans and local master plans control development in shore areas on a larger scale, with regard to strategic objectives and wider conservation goals. Local master plans may also be drawn up to enable limited development along shores, and such plans are nowadays quite widely used in Finland.

Local detailed plans are drawn up to control more intensive development along shores, and also to cover localities where built-up areas extend to the shore zone.

For more information

Sanna Andersson, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment, Tel. +358 295 250 063,

Published 2013-08-29 at 10:02, updated 2020-07-31 at 12:23