Excavation work at Helsinki-Malmi Airport must be stopped immediately

Aug 23, 2022

The Friends of Malmi Airport Association (FoMA) has filed a protection proposal of the Helsinki-Malmi Airport area under the Building Heritage Act on October 15, 2015. A ban on endangerment has been imposed on the area while the protection proposal is being processed. The protection proposal is currently being processed by the Supreme Administrative Court and does not have the force of law. 

The City of Helsinki has initiated and is about to initiate construction work in the area that violates the ban on endangerment and threatens to decide the values ​​of the protection proposal in advance. The city has started various earthworks, land stabilization measures and especially gas pipeline groundwork and construction in the area without proper permission, which, if implemented, will irreversibly damage the structures within the scope of the protection proposal.

As the author of the protection proposal, the Friends of Malmi Airport Association insists that the work that destroys the structures must be stopped immediately.

Heritage Finland’s statement calls for protection

In its statement to the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY), the State agency of antiquities Heritage Finland has stated:

What is almost unique about Malmi Airport is that the scale of the airport as well as the central buildings and structures have been preserved in their original appearance even in their original use.

The airfield with its foundation works and the hangar with its structures have been exceptionally demanding in terms of construction technology and are a sample of high-level know-how. The state of preservation of the airfield as a whole and its parts is exceptionally good.

Heritage Finland clearly refers to the airport’s structures, which include both above-ground and underground structures, including the drainage system of the runway area, which is among the first of its kind in the Nordic region and an essential functional part of the historic, exceptionally authentically preserved airport complex. 

In addition, the original concrete slabs of the airport’s apron and runways must undeniably be interpreted in this context above-ground structures, because the elevations on top of them were only made due to the effects of land subsidence in order to guarantee flight safety. The concrete slabs have already earlier been admitted to be covered by the ban on endangerment, and earlier damage caused to them has been repaired. The tiles now exposed fall within the scope of the ban on endangerment.

The only deviations and relaxations from protection allowed by Heritage Finland are related to the changes required for the continuation of aviation: 

The regulations must allow for necessary consideration for the usability and development of the airport, including the actual field area, enabling the continuation of aviation without jeopardizing the protected whole. 

The open landscape of the airport area must be kept undeveloped. The runways, taxiways and apron must also be preserved. Changes in technical systems and pavement materials based on aviation use and airfield safety are possible. 

As the leading expert agency for cultural heritage, Heritage Finland’s statement must be interpreted strictly. The ELY Centre has taken the unjustified liberty of interpreting the statement of Heritage Finland so broadly that conservation values ​​are clearly endangered. 

The ELY Centre must also take into account the relevant statement of Heritage Finland to the Ministry of the Environment issued on 1 November 2018 – MV/31/05.01.01/2018 1 (2):

According to the criteria of Section 3 of the Building Heritage Act, Heritage Finland has proposed that the actual protection should be allocated to the buildings, structures and built-up area of ​​the whole complex planned as an airport, and has identified the characteristic features to be protected. The protection of the physical environment thus also protects the preconditions of its use. Even after changes in use, the field could be returned to aviation use if the Built Cultural Environment of National Significance is preserved as a whole.

An essential part of the foundation works mentioned by Heritage Finland are the structures of the 40-km-long drainage system in the area of ​​the airport. They are essential for the management of the region’s abundant runoff and groundwater. The drainage system is clearly a part of Heritage Finland’s statement mentioning “exceptionally demanding in terms of construction technology and an example of high-level know-how.”

The Friends of Malmi Airport Association demands the ELY Center to stop the earthworks that are going on at Helsinki-Malmi Airport immediately and at least until the protection issue is legally resolved. The measures announced by the city will destroy the values ​​that are the object of protection. 

Appendix: request for injunction (in Finnish)