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COPENHAGEN

Party demands new environmental scrutiny of Copenhagen artificial island project

Lynetteholmen, a major artificial island project intended to eventually protect Copenhagen from rising sea levels and provide thousands of homes, faces a potential loss of political backing after a party said it wanted to reassess environmental implications of the construction.

Party demands new environmental scrutiny of Copenhagen artificial island project
Foundation work on the Lynetteholmen project near Copenhagen earlier this year. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti, SF) said on Tuesday that it wants a thorough investigation of the consequences of Lynetteholmen for the environment as a condition for its ongoing political support for the project.

The party’s transport spokesperson Anne Valentina Berthelsen said in a Facebook post that without the environmental assessment, “we can quite simply no longer support the project”.

Specifically, SF wants an assessment of environmental consequences to supplement existing studies related to outcomes of the project.

Berthelsen also said that SF wants an independent group of researchers and others to find any errors or omissions and to propose possible solutions to these.

The spokesperson said that the project has seen a number of scandals, citing earlier reports that waste from early construction was dumped in nearby Køge Bay, as well as potential reduction of water flow in the area.

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The SF spokesperson said she hoped to pressure transport minister Trine Bramsen to act on the issue.

“This is the last chance. For SF, this is a demand that must be met with. Otherwise, we are out of the agreement. So the minister must make an assessment of whether it is worth [agreeing to an investigation],” she wrote in the Facebook post.

In a written comment to news wire Ritzau, Bramsen said that requests and comments on the project could be raised in the group that signed for the project, of which SF is part.

“SF is, like everyone else, more than welcome to make suggestions and requests in relation to the strategic environmental assessment. That’s the whole point of [committee meetings],” she said.

An SF withdrawal from the project would not necessarily result in its failure, because enough other parties are in support to give it an overall majority.

Should other groups follow the left-wing group out of the agreement, however, the plan could struggle to receive the ongoing state funding needed to complete it over several decades.

Parliament last year gave the go-ahead to build Lynetteholm, a giant artificial island that will protect Copenhagen’s harbour waters from rising sea levels while also providing homes for 35,000 people.

Although it had a large majority at the time, Thomas Jensen, the Social Democrat MP coordinating the bill, dismissed claims that not enough had been done to assess the environmental consequences of what has been described as the largest construction project in Danish history.

The first new homes will be built by 2035, while Lynetteholmen itself will not be complete until 2070.

The island itself will be built on low-lying land reclaimed from the sea near Refshaleøen north of the capital. 

Meanwhile, a new tunnel under the harbour and a ring road to the east of the city will be constructed as infrastructure is developed.

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TRAVEL NEWS

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Plans for a new rail service running from Oslo and stopping in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen before arriving in Hamburg are in the works, Swedish state-owned rail operator SJ has said.

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Sweden’s state-owned SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and DB of Germany, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany. 

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services. 

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic. 

“Today, there is a great deal of flying between Copenhagen and Oslo and between Oslo and Gothenburg, routes that would be fine by train,” Essén told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Currently, the only direct trains from the Norwegian capital to other countries are services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. 

The European Commission has selected the potential line as one of ten pilot projects that will receive support. This does not mean it will receive direct funding from the EU, but it will get backing on regulations and logistics, Essén explained.

“You can get help with various regulations and the process of getting all vehicles approved in all countries,” he said.

Generally, many Swedish and Norwegian trains can only operate within Sweden and Norway, while the majority of Danish and German trains are not cleared to run in Sweden in Norway. 

The Snälltåget line between Stockholm and Berlin has also been selected to receive support from the European Commission. 

SJ also announced plans to increase the number of trains between Gothenburg and Malmö to ten per day and offer the Gothenburg-Copenhagen service all year round. It said that these plans could come to fruition by 2026 or 2027. 

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