Limited area of ​​validity
From January 1st 2019 the Avannaata Municipal Plan 2018-2030 became applicable and has since then been in effect
This means that the Qaasuitsup Municipal Plan 2014-2026 has since January 1st 2019 only been applicable to Kommune Qeqertalik.

National planning

The planning forecast is to describe how the town planning links to national planning.

Interests of the Government of Greenland in town planning

In February 2011, the Government of Greenland adopted the “Overview of the interests of the Government of Greenland in town planning – 2020”. The document describes the general conditions and objectives on which town planning is to be based and sets out the town planning requirements of the Government of Greenland.

The general conditions comprise national planning directives, national planning forecasts and cross-cutting measures and strategies for regional development, tourism, and the housing, transport and health sectors etc. In the planning of large projects, the overall interests of nature conservation and raw materials are to be safeguarded through an EIA procedure (environmental impact assessment).

According to the objectives and requirements of the Government of Greenland, town plans are to:

  • set out overall provisions regarding area use and buildings to safeguard special national planning interests in the individual subareas.
  • incorporate building regulation in the overall provisions for buildings in subareas, such as distance requirements, rescue and firefighting procedures, road building lines and access areas.
  • set out protection zones around explosives stores, such as safety distances to nearest area use and development around such installations.
  • set out safety zones around airfields, heliports and helistops and restricted zones to ensure safe aviation operations, including line of sight areas and obstacle limitation areas. Allowances should be made for nearby built-up areas in terms of noise load and safety distances.
  • include provisions for the location and delimitation of ports and related transport services.
  • set out protection zones and safety zones around telecommunications plants.
  • determine the location and delimitation of subareas accommodating technical supply plants and infrastructure, such as filling stations and pumping plants. Protection zones specifying area use, building and safety distances should be established.
  • determine the location and delimitation of subareas zoned for hydro plants, including protection zones around the plant for reasons of safety and/or to protect the plant itself.
  • safeguard drinking water resources and water protection zones by means of protection zones around water abstraction areas. Provisions for area use and development in these areas are also to be defined.
  • delimit subareas zoned for industries with special location requirements.
  • plan polluting and potentially polluting areas and areas zoned for polluting industry, including waste management plants.
  • safeguard protected and preservation-worthy sites and structures, including natural values or areas of special preservation interest.
  • determine the location and delimitation of cultural heritage areas. Provisions for protected and preservation-worthy areas and structures in the subareas should be defined, including listed or preservation-worthy buildings and urban areas.
  • determine the location and delimitation of industrial areas, including raw material exploitation areas, and set out provisions for technical supply plants and infrastructure, such as transport facilities in connection with raw materials extraction.

The national planning directive for the open country

At the parliamentary spring assembly in 2008, a decision was made to transfer the responsibility for planning and development in the open country from the Government of Greenland to the municipalities. The national planning directive guides the delegation of responsibility to the municipalities in that municipal councils are committed to implementing the directive, e.g. in connection with area allotment.

Aiming at preventing unplanned area uses, the national planning directive for the open country is to be incorporated in the town plan of the merged municipalities. While the national planning directive provides the overall structure, including framework and guidelines for the open country throughout Greenland, the municipalities can draft more detailed provisions in their further planning. The open country is defined as areas outside of towns and settlements.

The national planning directive classifies the open country into five subareas:


  • K – Huts, holiday cottages etc.
  • L – Special recreational areas
  • M – Keeping of animals and agriculture (area for sheep farming, agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, dog islands etc.
  • N – Technical supply plants and other infrastructure
  • O – Unbuilt areas, which include the following subcategories:
    • O1 Unbuilt natural areas
    • O2 Areas for extensive grazing
    • O3 Unspoiled natural areas.

The national planning directive defines six K areas, five L areas, one M area and two N areas in Qaasuitsup Municipality. Further, O1 areas have been zoned around towns and settlements and around K, L, M and N areas. The wilderness is an O3 area.

Additionally, the town plan is to cover areas forming part of outdoors plans, which will be included as subareas under one of the five categories. In Qaasuitsup Municipality, this is particularly relevant to the outdoors plan “A living settlement in the area of Kangerlukuk”.

The objectives and requirements of the Government of Greenland have been introduced into the town plan goals and the specific provisions for the subareas. Provisions have been adapted to conditions in the areas where the directive is not directly applicable or where planning changes are required, such as in areas for recreational huts and areas around towns and settlements etc.

The regional development strategy (RUS)

The objectives of the regional development strategy (RUS) of 2011 are to:

  • define an overall strategy for national and regional development in Greenland.
  • establish a cross-sector strategy.
  • link national and municipal visions and strategies.

The wish for a more self-sustaining economy requires a continuous effort to improve and clarify the division of responsibilities between the Government of Greenland and the municipalities. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on improving public-private interaction, private-sector growth and sustainable development.

The regional development strategy is made up of two parts; the national part containing the Government of Greenland's contribution through national substrategies, and the regional part containing municipal initiatives under the national framework. The regional development strategy classifies Greenland into six regions, two of which are located in Qaasuitsup Municipality. These are Qaasuitsup North and Disko Bay, including Uummannaq.

The focus of the national part is on industrial development and education as expressed by the seven national substrategies, for which objectives, status, challenges and proposed action have been identified:

  • Focused action in elementary schools
  • An inclusive labour market encouraging geographic and occupational mobility
  • Easier transition from elementary schools to youth education
  • An overall plan for youth education
  • Modernisation of the fishing sector
  • Establishment of business clusters in growth sectors
  • Increased food sales.

The regional part is more concerned with municipal interests, such as tourism, fishing, raw materials extraction, education and housing construction. The regional development strategy has a particular focus on education and businesses.

Being a political and procedural tool, the priorities of the regional development strategy are somewhat different from the more concrete focus of the town plan on development and spatial planning. By representing the regional policy dimension of local development, the strategy can have profound implications on the town plan, such as derived effects on settlement and migration patterns in the municipality.

The goals and policies for the future development formulated by Qaasuitsup Municipality are fully in line with the key action areas and initiatives of the regional development strategy. Some of these have already been realised through specific projects and activities under the framework of the strategy, including the comprehensive data collection project in town and settlements in the municipality. As such, it should be straightforward to incorporate the regional development strategy into the objectives and actions of the town plan for the individual sectors.

Read more about the regional development strategy and gain access to the report on the national development strategy at

Report of the Transport Commission

In 2009, the Government of Greenland set up a Transport Commission to formulate a long-term transport policy and define a traffic structure for Greenland. The Greenlandic transport system and its economy are closely linked and so it is to be ensured that the transport sector is capable of supporting the long-term objectives of a self-sustaining economy. The commission was tasked with finding transport solutions that could realise the overall vision of public access to cheap, efficient and socio-economically responsible modes of transport.

The Transport Commission report submitted in 2011 addresses a number of key issues and challenges regarding passenger and goods transport and presents analyses and recommendations for visions, objectives, key action areas for the Greenlandic infrastructure sector and transport system up to 2030. Recommendations apply both to the set-up and to the prioritisation of infrastructure and services.

Furthermore, the report presents analyses of specific infrastructure projects already in the pipeline or in the spotlight.

Several of the projects analysed are of immediate relevance to Qaasuitsup Municipality. The projects concerned are:

  • Extension of the airport in Ilulissat
  • Road and maritime connections between Qaarsut and Uummannaq
  • Closure of the airport in Qaanaaq
  • Municipal ports, especially in Ilulissat and Aasiaat
  • New airport on Uummannaq Island
  • Other airports (in Aasiaat, Upernavik, Qaanaaq, Qaarsut).

The Transport Commission recommends that supplementary analyses be made of construction needs in North Greenland, and it is essential for Qaasuitsup Municipality to ensure follow-up on studies to investigate port and airport extensions in the municipality. Projects and facilities in other parts of Greenland may directly affect infrastructure conditions in the municipality, such as the establishment of an Atlantic airport and the extension of the container port in Nuuk.

Read more about the report of the Transport Commission at:

Tourism strategy

In 2012, the Government of Greenland published the “2012-2015 national tourism strategy”, which launches an action-oriented and targeted tourism development strategy for Greenland. It is estimated that tourism accounts for ten per cent of foreign exchange earnings in Greenland – approximately DKK 100 million. The Government of Greenland pursues the objective that earnings from the tourism and experience sectors make up a significant share of Greenlandic export revenue in 2020.

The tourism strategy identifies five strategic key action areas that should help secure economically, socially and environmentally sustainable growth of five to ten per cent in the tourism sector up to 2020.

In Qaasuitsup Municipality, cruise tourism increased significantly from 2006 to 2010, as reflected by the number of overnight stays at hotels. It is estimated that the number of cruise ship passengers reached 37,500 in 2010. The main tourism activity is expedition cruises, with several ships calling at settlements in the Uummannaq and Qaanaaq area. Cruise tourism is critical to earnings from tourism in this part of the country due to lack of access for airborne tourists.

In Disko Bay (Qeqertarsuup tunua), especially Ilulissat is a magnet for tourists, be it land-based or cruise tourism. Direct air flights between Ilulissat and Iceland have extended the season, increased the number of passengers and offered improved accessibility for tourists from new markets. Scheduled ferry services in the area during the summer allow tourists to visit other towns and settlements.

Key action areas in the tourism sector of Qaasuitsup Municipality relate to improving statistics and documentation, developing infrastructure to serve tourism, stepping up marketing efforts, such as servicing film crews, seeking more co-financing with foreign tourism agencies to launch marketing campaigns and putting greater focus on marketing of Arctic commodities (including the experience sector).

The health-care reform

On 1 January 2011, a health-care reform was introduced. The health-care reform aims to ensure that the Greenlandic health-care sector can provide modern services to its citizens in the future. An important aspect of the reform was the wish to provide equal access to health-care services in town and settlements, e.g. through telemedicine.

Where there were previously 16 health-care districts in Greenland, the health reform divides the country into five health-care regions, each with its own regional hospital, and a national hospital in Nuuk. In addition to the regional hospital, each region provides three different levels of treatment with varying degrees of specialisation: health-care centres, nursing stations and settlement consultation posts.

Qaasuitsup Municipality is divided into two healthcare regions; Avannaa and Disko with regional hospitals located in Ilulissat and Aasiaat. In addition, there are health-care centres in the small towns in Qaanaaq, Upernavik, Uummannaq, Qasigiannguit and Qeqertarsuaq, respectively. Finally, there are nursing stations and settlement consultation posts in 30 settlements.

Read more about the health-care reform at

Nature protection interests

The town plan is to integrate the 12 bird protection areas and six Ramsar sites in Qaasuitsup Municipality.

The six Ramsar sites are:

  • Qinguata Marraa and Kuussuaq on Disko Island
  • Aqajarua and Sullorsuaq on Disko Island
  • Kitsissunnguit
  • Naternaq
  • Eqalummiut Nunaat
  • Nassutuup Nunaa.

The 12 bird protection areas are:

  • Lion Islands south of Qeqertat
  • Kuup Apparsui/Kap Schackleton
  • Toqqusaaq
  • Kingittuarsuk, west-northwest of Angissoq
  • Upernaviup Apparsui/Sandersons Hope
  • Kippakup Apparsuit
  • Salleq
  • Assissut/Brændevinsskær at Kronprinsens Ejland
  • Nunatsiaq/Rotten at Hunde Ejland
  • Saattuarssuit at Green Islands (Grønne Ejland)
  • The fiord arm Tasiussarssuaq behind Naternaq at the Nordenskjold Glacier
  • Appat Innaat/the bird cliff Appat at Ritenbenk.

Preservation and conservation interests

Preservation and conservation interests include preservation and conservation at national level, preservation areas, listed buildings, which all are to be incorporated into the town plan. In addition, the municipality has identified a number of buildings worthy of preservation.

The following areas in Qaasuitsup Municipality have national conservation status:

  • Melville Bay Nature Reserve between Upernavik and Qaanaaq, because it is an important breeding area for narwhal. Executive order no. 21 of 17 May 1989.
  • The heather field at Qeqertarsuaq because of the unique flora in the area surrounding the Arctic Station. Promulgation of 1986.
  • Ilulissat Icefiord included on UNESCO's World Heritage List because of its unique glaciological conditions and natural beauty. Executive order no. 10 of 15 June 2007.
  • Kitsissunnguit in Disko Bay because of its abundant bird life. Executive order no. 11 of 17 April 2008. (Also international protection under the Ramsar Convention).

Preservation areas in Qaasuitsup Municipality include:

  • Ikerasanguaq near Niaqornaarsuk – ruins not excavated (Kangaatsiaq district)
  • Simiutalik (Aasiaat district)
  • Qajaa at Jakobshavn ice fiord – the entire site (Christianshåb district)
  • Tussaaq in the South East Bay (Christianshåb district)
  • Qallunaarmiut – the entire site (area by Zion Church in Ilulissat)
  • Kagdlo – the entire site (Appat)
  • Igdluluarssuk at Sarkak – the entire site (Ritenbenk district)
  • Ilutalik at Torssukatak – the large ruin, graves at Nangissat (Appat)
  • Serfat – the entire site (Appat)
  • Saputit – the reindeer hunting fence (Appat)
  • Perlertut in Nordfjord – the entire site (Qeqertarsuaq district)
  • All ruins on the Island of Issua (Uummannaq district)
  • Eqaluit – the entire site (Uummannaq district)
  • Nuussuaq – bear trap weir (Uummannaq district)
  • Nussak – the entire site (Uummannaq district)
  • All ruins north of Nugssuak (Kraulshavn) (Upernavik district)
  • Inugsuk – midden not excavated (Upernavik district)
  • Gl. Skibshavn – the entire site (Upernavik district)
  • Bruuns Island – the entire site (Upernavik district)
  • Nugaarsuk in Umiarfik Fjord – the entire site (Upernavik district).

Listed buildings are buildings of national importance due to their distinctive architectural or heritage value. Owners are to keep a listed building in sound condition. All construction work related to a listed building, be it interior or exterior, minor or major, requires permission from the Greenland National Museum. Listed buildings are governed by the Greenland ParIiament Act no. 11 of 19 May 2010 on Cultural Heritage Protection and Conservation. The Greenland National Museum supervises listed buildings.

Qaasuitsup Municipality has the following listed buildings:


  • B-3 – Church built in 1839 (now a museum)
  • B-11 – Cooperage built in 1848 (now a museum/retreat)
  • B-12 – Captain's residence on Imerisut built in 1777 (now a museum)
  • B-14 – Shop built in 1864 (now a museum)
  • B-96 – Church built in 1925
  • B-97 – Mortuary built in 1941
  • B-98 – Vicar's residence built in 1866 (now a museum residence)
  • B-99 – School built in 1910 (now a museum).


  • B-116 – Church built in 1934


  • B-75 – Zion Church built in 1779
  • B-76 – Mortuary built in 1929
  • B-78 – Residence of the Dean built in 1847 (now a museum).


  • B-4 – Shop built in 1734 (now a museum).


  • B-67 – Church built in 1913
  • B-68 – Mortuary built in 1915
  • B-502 – Church bell built in 1975.


  • B-24 – Colonial factor's residence built in 1860 (now a museum)
  • B-26 – Commander's residence built in 1777 (now a tourist office)
  • B-144 – Children's school built in 1914 (now a boarding school)
  • B-146 – Gymnasium in continuation school built in 1939 (now a school)
  • B-156 – Girls’ school built in 1932 (now a library).


  • B-463 - Museum built in 1910


  • B-803 - Lager
  • B-807 - Trading station manager's house


  • B-46 – Seamen’s quarters built in 1869 (now a school camp)
  • B-58 – Manager's residence built in 1858 (now a school camp).

For a list of preserved buildings, see the Greenland National Museum..

Finally, municipalities have identified preservation-worthy buildings of regional or local interest to be included in town plans. Municipalities can provide financial support to cover the expenses of maintaining preservation-worthy buildings. It is not allowed to demolish, rebuild, or alter a preservation-worthy building without permission.

Raw materials interests

The raw materials sector is governed by the Raw Materials Act, Greenland Parliament Act no. 7 of 7 December 2009 on Mineral Resources and Mineral Resource Activities. The act governs licenses related to prospecting, exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons and minerals. The Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum and its affiliated agencies are the overall competent authority for the Greenlandic raw materials sector. Apart from the Raw Materials Act, the sector is governed by a regulatory framework, which can found at the home page of the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum

Qaasuitsup Municipality is potentially wealthy in raw materials. As of 1 June 2013, a number of licenses related to prospecting, exploration and exploitation of minerals, oil and gas had been issued for the following projects:

  • Gold on Qeqertarsuaq Island (Storø).
  • Lead, zinc and silver at Maarmorilik.
  • Various minerals around Disko Island and Uummannaq.
  • Iron in Melville Bay.
  • Lead, zinc and silver in Washington Land.
  • Oil and gas in Disko West, in the Nuusuaq Region west of Disko Island. Nine blocks of licenses have been granted, distributed on six licensee holders.
  • Oil and gas in Baffin Bay off the coast of Northwest Greenland. Five blocks of licenses have been granted distributed on five licensee holders.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) will be made to ensure that oil and gas activities are undertaken in an environmentally sustainable manner. The EIA will include studies of the impact of sea ice and icebergs on exploration and exploitation activities in the area. In 2011, as warranted, Qaasuitsup Municipality commissioned a socio-economic analysis of the offshore/onshore project already included in the municipality's planning basis.

Thule Air Base

Thule Air Base is situated in the northern part of Qaasuitsup Municipality approximately 1,200 km north of the Arctic circle. Established originally as a trading post, the area was converted into military territory during the Second World War by the U.S. Air Force. The air base in Thule is still important to the NATO cooperation and as such to Greenland’s and Denmark’s security policies.

In fact, Thule Air Base is a community of its own. Due to its remote location in Northwest Greenland, the base has to accommodate everything needed for daily life. As such, the base has its own airport, firefighters, fitness centre, bowling hall, hotel and kitchens and accommodation for employees. While the U.S. Air Force is responsible for the military activities of the base, GC – Greenland Contractors – is responsible for everything else.

Avannaata Kommunia · Postboks 1023 · 3952 Ilulissat · Grønland · · E-mail: · Tlf.: +299 70 18 00
Kommune Qeqertalik · Postboks 220 · 3950 Aasiaat · Grønland · · E-mail: · Tlf.: +299 70 19 00
Last edited 13-6-2014