ELY Centre's decision in the matter of protecting Malmi Airport makes the RKY designation moot

Seppo SipiläFor the press, News archive

On 26 June 2019, the ELY Centre of Uusimaa repeated its earlier decision and left Malmi Airport without protection. The area has been proposed for protection based on the Act on the Protection of Built Heritage, but the ELY Centre bases its decision on the Land Use and Building Act.

The Ministry for the Environment returned the protection proposal to be processed anew on 5 April 2019, as the view of the legal advisers of the Ministry was that the matter had been prepared in the ELY Centre based on the wrong law. The new decision still doesn’t apply the Act on the Protection of Built Heritage.

Rejecting the protection of Malmi Airport is also in direct contradiction with the inventory of Built Cultural Heritage of National Significance (RKY). RKY is an inventory by Heritage Finland, the national board of antiquities in Finland, supervising by the State Council’s decision the application of national land use policies based on the Land Use and Building Act.

The decision was already made before the process

The ELY Centre announced immediately after the Ministry’s rejection that its decision would not change, but just the related arguments would be made more specific. Such public, prescient commenting on the matter raised astonishment and doubts about the impartial processing of the matter. In reply to a request for clarification, the ELY Centre has stated that it does not consider its involved personnel to be disqualified in the matter. According to the periodical Suomen Kuvalehti, the ELY Centre has stated about the protection proposals straight out: “In the matter of Malmi Airport, such big decisions have been made that it was unrealistic to expect the ELY Centre to save it.”

The matter has been processed swiftly, and obviously under great political pressure. Even in its new decision, the ELY Centre has not taken into account the changed circumstances, nor organized a hearing of the involved parties.

On 1 September 2018, the international Faro Convention was brought into force in Finland, emphasizing cultural heritage as an asset and its diversity and significance as a resource of sustainable development. The Convention is backed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, defining the right to cultural heritage as one of the basic rights of civilization.

Even though the situation has changed, no new statements have been collected and no new hearings have been arranged.

The decision is in contradiction with the contents of the proposal

The Chairman of Friends of Malmi Airport Association, the initiator of the protection proposal, is shocked:

”The process as a whole has been very peculiar. The ELY Centre lauds the value of the area and the need to protect it in the text of its decision, but the decision itself is in contradiction with the proposal. It is incredible that the ELY Centre can make an interpretation that voids the national RKY designation, based on the Council of State’s decision, as in reality the city planning process hasn’t taken it into account.”

The statement of the leading official expert organization, Heritage Finland, has not been duly taken into account. Heritage Finland’s Director of Department Mikko Härö, is unambiguous in Heritage Finland’s statement.

“The goal of the zoning plan to fill the airport with blocks of housing destroys a historically and architecturally unique monument, even if a couple of buildings are preserved and the runway is used for road alignment.”

Malmi Airport received RKY status in 2009. According to the law, the designation must guide planning on all levels. Other RKY environments include e.g. Suomenlinna Fortress and Old Rauma. As concerns the RKY-designated Tuomarinkylä and Vartiosaari areas in Helsinki, the Administrative Court ruled the general plan, promoting housing, to be illegal. Only at Malmi Airport, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of the general plan in a very unusual voting decision against the rapporteur’s proposal.

Chairman Timo Hyvönen regrets having to continue on the path of complaints.

”As the matter has not been properly processed according to the Ministry of the Environment’s rejection decision, we unfortunately have to file a new complaint to the Ministry. We hope that the matter will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

A prohibition of endangerment is in effect at Malmi Airport until the decision regarding its protection becomes legal.

More information:
Timo Hyvönen, chairman
Friends of Malmi Airport Association
tel. +358 50 3748371
chair@malmiairport.fi

Decision of the ELY Centre, 26 June 2019 (in Finnish)

A citizens’ initiative to have a referendum about the area’s future is pending in the municipality of Helsinki. In just over six months, the initiative has gathered more than 12.000 signatures and is turning into the biggest municipal initiative in Finland.

Municipal initiative (in Finnish): https://www.kuntalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/6466