Executive Summary
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Achievements of the IIIB North Sea Programme
Projects 2000-2006
THEME 1 New Opportunities for Rural and Peripheral Areas
Canal Link
North SEAfaring
CO 2

The North Sea Region is characterised by large peripheral and semi-peripheral rural areas with many small towns of less than 20,000 inhabitants. Many parts of the programme area already have low GDP and face the further challenges of an ageing population and out-migration, both of which have decreased the active labour force. These pressures, together with the scarcity of urban functions can, if unchecked, lead to economic and social decline. These trends affect the inherent economic competitiveness of some regions within the North Sea Region, resulting in changed demands for land use, travel, access to services and infra-structure.

The peripheral and semi-peripheral areas of the North Sea region also possess unique qualities that represent huge potential for future social and economic development. Some rural areas have few job opportunities to replace those lost by declining agricultural activities. The economic potential of these areas is limited, but there have been positive developments in fields such as rural tourism, establishing new services and improving existing ones. In addition there has been an emphasis on developing new opportunities for economic activities, whilst harnessing and protecting the unique environment and heritage assets of many areas in the North Sea region.

The activities and achievements of the nine projects approved by the Programme within this theme have demonstrated the value of intervention to encourage urban-rural and inter-rural co-operation in order to provide a decent level of services and solve common problems to preserve and improve the quality of life in these special parts of the North Sea Region.

Key features Main achievements and outcomes


in rural areas

new opportunities for small-scale tourism heritage information and route directions
new services to support the everyday life of inhabitants in peripheral areas
enabling the elderly to stay in their own homes
a permanent management structure for the North Sea Cycle Route 5100 km of finalised trail in 26 partner regions within 7 countries
Safeguarding cultural and natural heritage
integrated management and development plan for the common landscape and cultural heritage in the Wadden Sea Region
protection and restoration of cultural, natural and historical landscapes and townscapes
combined maritime heritage with regional and national planning spatial planning strategies
bringing together spatial planners and maritime heritage practitioners
reconstruction of historic maritime heritage sites
Protecting and developing valuable landscapes
best practice in the maintenance and improvement of rural landscapes
public – private model for agricultural products
sustainable development of national parks
economic impact on rural development and and out of season activity
accessibility of tourist attractions by developing public transport
waterways as a catalyst for the regeneration of urban and rural areas
yachting links between canals across the North Sea
classification of a recreational waterway network in the North Sea Region


Tourism: One opportunity for the development of rural and peripheral areas (CO2 project)
The North Sea
Region Programme Secretariat
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