Sectoral planning is the systematic preparation and execution of measures within one specific sector of public policy by the competent sectoral authority (federal or state ministry, local sectoral authorities or other bodies governed by public law). Sectoral planning is deemed to be spatially relevant when it directly or indirectly influences the development of spatial structures. Planning in the transport, energy, environmental, waste management, and water management sectors has a major impact on space, and is concerned particularly with public infrastructure projects (including roads, canals, airports, power lines, sewage plants, fortifications). Some sectoral planning also provides for the designation of protected areas to safeguard public interests. Particularly concerned are nature reserves, landscape and water conservation areas, restricted areas for military facilities, and building protection areas in the vicinity of airports and airfields.
A legal basis has been created for each of these types of sectoral planning (e.g. Federal Highways Act, Federal Nature Conservation Act, the Federal Water Act), laying down the tasks and competencies of each authority and regulating planning approval procedure. The relevant legislation contains what are referred to as “spatial planning clauses” included with the purpose of safeguarding the requirements of federal and state spatial planning. The coordination of state and regional planning is indispensable, since sectoral planning generally goes beyond the territory of a single local authority, so that urban development planning can exert only limit influence.