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OPINION: Building on Amager Common risks destroying Copenhagen’s green image

Copenhagen must drop its plans to build on Amager Common, one of the largest wild areas of any European City, argue local artists and activists Maria Zahle and Jason Dungan.

OPINION: Building on Amager Common risks destroying Copenhagen's green image
Lærkesletten, where the proposed Fælledby will destroy the habitat of crested newts, wild deer, larch etc. Photo: Morten Sørensen

Copenhagen is known internationally as a “green” city, and Copenhagen city council has been keen to promote the idea of biodiversity and sustainability in their public statements. But right now, Copenhagen is moving ahead with the destruction of a large area of Amager Fælled, or Amager Common, one of the largest areas of wild nature within any European city.

The proposed development, Fælledby, will be a city-within-a-city, containing two thousand apartments, a school, a hotel, and businesses. It is planned to be built on Lærkesletten, a part of Amager Fælled which contains natural habitats for a range of rare and protected animals.

It is projected that 7,000 people will make their way in and out of this development every day, putting increased stress on the rest of Amager Fælled, and making it increasingly difficult for animals to live in their habitats. The presence of the Fælled means that Copenhagen has a rare amount of nature and biodiversity so close to the city centre – it is truly what allows Copenhagen to exist as a “green city” in the first place.

One more bite of Amager Fælled 

To many local politicians and property developers, however, the Fælled is an opportunity for generating revenue, putting at risk the very possibility of Copenhagen as a “green” space. For the past 30 years, parts of the Fælled have already been absorbed into other developments, such as Ørestad North, the Danmarks Radio complex, and other areas. Many in Copenhagen now fear that the municipal government will continue with this process of developing patches of Amager Fælled until it no longer exists as a natural space.

The city’s argument is that it needs more money, and more places for people to live. We would argue that there are a number of other solutions to Copenhagen’s housing problems that can be explored, without destroying our precious local nature. Two thousand apartments with high rents are not going to solve Copenhagen’s housing crisis.

Back due to popular demonstrations 

The Friends of Amager Common (Amager Fælleds Venner) are a group of more than 20,000 residents who are fighting to keep Amager Fælled free from new developments, in order to keep the whole of Amager Fælled as a natural habitat for animals and a recreational area for local citizens.

They have so far had success in keeping Amager Fælled free from new builds since plans to build on Strandengen were scrapped in 2017, due to popular protests.

And they believe it can be done again, once and for all!  As Steffen Rasmussen, the spokesperson for Amager Fælleds Venner says: “Copenhagen city council has a great biodiversity plan. It would be even greater if politicians actually followed it.”

A public demonstration on Sunday will start at 10am on the mountain at Amager Fælled, overlooking the building site.

Here the performance group Becoming Species will form a parade with animal masks and costumes imitating the threatened species of Amager Fælled. From the mountain they will sing and dance bringing the wilderness with them all the way to City Hall (Rådhuspladsen). You can also join the demo directly at Rådhuspladsen at 12 o’clock this Sunday.

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COPENHAGEN

Three great Copenhagen open air swimming spots

On a warm day — or for the Danes, even on a cold day — a dip in Copenhagen's harbors and beaches can do just the trick. Here are three of our favourite spots for an open air swim in Denmark's capital city and advice on where not to swim.

Three great Copenhagen open air swimming spots

Amager Strandpark — a beach’s beach 

If you’re looking for white sand beaches and room to spread out a towel (as long as you get there early enough), Amager Strandpark is your best bet. It’s about 25 minutes by bike or via metro line 2 from downtown Copenhagen. 

Children play on popular Copenhagen beach Amager Strandpark. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Amager Strandpark offers 4.6 km of beachfront real estate with areas for picnicking, ball games, and, of course, swimming. 

It’s also prime territory for watersports (kayaking, anyone?) and the Copenhagen Surf School offers windsurfing lessons for beginners. 

The Islands Brygge harbour bath offers fantastic views of the city. Photo: Kasper Palsnov/Ritzau Scanpix

Islands Brygge Havnebad — an urban swimming experience 

A stone’s throw from the city center, Islands Brygge is perhaps Copenhagen’s most iconic urban swimming spot. 

The Harbour bath boasts three diving platforms as well as five semi-inclosed pools, two designated for children. 

Svanemølle Beach is a hop, skip and a jump from the fashionable Østerbro neighborhood. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Svanemølle Strand 

Literally “swan mill beach” in Danish, this small beach in Østerbro is a favorite haunt for families with young children since the tide comes in very slowly. For the grown-ups, a massive 130-meter pier offers access to deep water. 

Places NOT to swim 

It’s not permitted to swim in the canals at Nyhavn or in Copenhagen’s famous lakes (though with the summer algae bloom, you probably wouldn’t want to anyway). As a rule of thumb, anywhere without a lifeguard in high season or without ladders in and out of the water should be avoided. 

The map below shows the three recommended swimming spots. Zoom in to see where they are in Copenhagen.

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