Regional Council of Kainuu is responsible for regional land use planning and coordination of the transport system work in Kainuu. The regional land use plan guides the municipal land use planning  and other decision-making concerning the use of land by the authorities. Main responsibility for the regional planning and transport system work lies within the Regional Planning Unit.

Regional Land Use Planning in Finland

Finland’s land use planning system, as defined in the Land Use and Building Act, gives municipalities a high degree of autonomy in local land use planning. Municipalities produce local detailed plans to guide construction and other land use changes in areas where land is used intensively or in sensitive areas. These detailed plans are guided by local master plans, which may be produced by individual municipalities, or by groups of municipalities in the form of a joint master plan.

Municipal planning is guided by national land use guidelines issued by the national government, and by regional land use plans. Regional land use plans are general plans that set out medium-term and long-term objectives for regional land use patterns concerning issues that affect land use planning in many municipalities. Regional land use plans are drafted and approved by the regional councils. Land use designations and planning reservations shown on the maps in the comprehensive regional land use plans provide a concrete expression of the regional development strategies also drawn up by the regional councils. These plans ensure that local developments planned at municipal level are in accordance with these strategies. Regional land use plans cover developments and issues that affect many municipalities, where effective planning solutions cannot be developed at the local level alone.

Regional land use plans define a general framework for the more detailed local plans drawn up by the municipalities. Regional land use plans are legally binding with regard to municipal planning and the activities of other officials, but they nevertheless leave plenty of scope for municipalities to resolve local land use and development issues. Regional land use plans can also directly control construction and other land uses through conditional building restrictions and protection orders.

Conditional building restrictions define areas where building permits may not be granted for developments that would hinder the implementation of the regional land use plan. Reasonable compensation is paid where the refusal of planning permission results in substantial losses for landowners.

Protection orders can be designated in regional land use plans to limit construction and other land use changes that would endanger valuable natural or cultural features or landscapes. Protection orders can be defined to prevent land use changes such as forestation and drainage schemes.

The regional councils independently decide on planning solutions within the general framework for their content and scope set out in the Land Use and Building Act. The regional councils must also ensure that their plans promote the implementation of the national land use guidelines set by the national government. Appeals concerning the legality of regional land use plans may be submitted to the Supreme Administrative Court after approval.

Various reports and surveys are compiled before regional land use plans are drawn up, in order to ensure that the land use patterns and legal restrictions defined within the plans are sustainable and fair. The impacts of the implementation of regional land use plans are also assessed during the drafting of the plans and before they are approved. Such impact analyses are designed to support planning processes and to facilitate choices between alternative planning options, as well as to help prevent or reduce any undesirable impacts. Draft planning proposals are exhibited in public places to allow all citizens and interest groups to examine them and officially submit any objections.

Regional land use plans may be drafted in three forms:

  • comprehensive regional land use plans covering all major planning issues in the whole region,
  • phased regional land use plans covering certain specific planning issues during each planning phase and
  • sub-regional land use plans covering smaller sub-regions or coherent areas such as river systems.

The option of producing phased or sub-regional land use plans gives the regional planning authorities flexibility where changing conditions make the drafting of such plans desirable, or where resources are limited. In such cases the authorities must nevertheless also strive to keep the comprehensive land use plan for the whole region up to date.

Regional Land Use Planning in Kainuu

There are five regional land use plans in Kainuu that are in force at the moment

  • The comprehensive regional land use plan until 2020
  • The 1st phased regional land use plan concentrating on the use of Vuosanka military training area and the surrounding areas
  • The phased regional land use plan covering commercial units
  • The phased regional land use plan covering wind energy
  • The phased regional land use plan 2030 covering many planning issues in the whole region

Updating the Regional Plan for Wind Power in Kainuu

The current regional land use plan for wind power in Kainuu was ratified on 21 May 2019. The plan identifies the most suitable areas for wind power construction based on the studies done at the preparation phase and the situation of that time.

Revising the plan has become topical, as the rapidly evolving industry may allow new perspectives and new potential areas for wind power production. The official process to draw a new phased regional land use plan covering wind power issues has been launched.

Transport System and Accessibility

The Regional Council of Kainuu defines the development needs related to of the Regional transport system in co-operation with municipalities, transport authorities and other co-operation parties that have a key impact on transport issues. The aim is to create preconditions for developing the accessibility and vitality of the region and to ensure smooth and safe mobility.

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