Planning in figures

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of the Environment

A short description of demography, norwegian areas and municipal planning in Norway.

Demographic developments

Population growth is an important basis for planning at the national, regional and local levels. The population of Norway is expected to increase strongly over the next 50 years. According to Statistics Norway’s medium projection variant, the population will increase from 4.9 million in 2010 to around 7 million in 2060.

In relation to planning, a breakdown of expected growth by population group and country region is also important. In addition to a larger proportion of immigrants, the Norwegian population will be characterised by an increasing proportion of elderly people.

Work is still a decisive factor for where people settle, but where people choose to live is also influenced by factors such as good housing, access to services, proximity to family members and local and environmental qualities. The population is expected to increase in all counties over the next few years, but it will grow fastest in Oslo, Akershus and Rogaland. The trend towards an increasingly centralised settlement structure is also expected to continue.

Projected population until 2060 based on different assumptions (in millions).Projected population until 2060 based on different assumptions (in millions).

Number of persons in the age group 67 and older (in millions).Number of persons in the age group 67 and older (in millions).

Net migration between the regions. Net migration between the regions.

Norwegian areas

With a land area of 305,470 square kilometres (mainland) and a population of 5.1 million people, Norway has the second lowest (after Iceland) population density in Europe, with an average of 16 inhabitants per square kilometre. Due to the harsh climate, shallow soil and difficult topography, large parts of the country are not used for settlement or agriculture.

Nearly 80 per cent of the population live in peri-urban areas, with a population density of 1,595 people per square kilometre. Much of the pressure is therefore on peri-urban areas and surrounding productive agriculture and forest land. Many areas with scattered settlements are also increasingly under pressure due to road construction, cabin building, installation of power lines etc.

There are also potential environmental benefits associated with a greater population concentration. Concentrated settlement leads to reduced energy consumption for transport and housing, more built-up play and recreation areas and other common goods in the local area (as well as more efficient arrangements for water, wastewater and waste).

Changes in land use change the cultural landscape and the local environment. This is important in relation to people’s health and quality of life, the economic potential of the areas and nature’s productivity and ecological qualities.

Land use in Norway broken down by category.Land use in Norway broken down by category.

Proportion of the built-up areas that is used for different purposes.Proportion of the built-up areas that is used for different purposes.

Municipal planning

Norway has more than 400 municipalities that differ widely in terms of their geography, area and population figures. More than half these municipalities have less than 5,000 inhabitants, while 12 municipalities have more than 50,000 inhabitants.

Land use plans

Norway has a high level of planning activity with between 2,000 and 3,000 land use plans, zoning plans and municipal master plans adopted every year. In recent years, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of land use plans that are met with objections, which is now between 20 and 30 per cent.

Cases of objections that are not resolved through the planning process and mediation efforts are sent to the Ministry for final decision. This applies to between one and two per cent of the total number of adopted plans, i.e. between 20 and 50 cases.

For municipal master plans, the average age of the land use element is five years, and six years for the social element. The situation varies greatly across the country. It is especially large municipalities with low and decreasing population figures that lack updated plans. Many of these municipalities also lack planning competence.

In connection with the new Planning and Building Act, it is a challenge to build the capacity, expertise and motivation needed to ensure that all municipalities have up-to-date municipal master plans.

More statistical information

The key figures in KOSTRA (Municipality-State-Reporting) provide information on most of the municipal and county municipal activities, including economy, schools, health, culture, the environment, social services, public housing, technical services and transport and communication.

State of the Environment Norway aims to provide you with the latest information about the state and development of the environment.

Norway's Nature Index is intended to document overall trends for the state of major ecosystems throughout the country.

Statistics Norway