Helsinki’s Urban Environment Division has applied to the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) for a permit pursuant to § 49 subsection 3 of the Nature Conservation Act to deviate from the protection of the northern bat, referred to in § 49 subsection 1, in order to enable the implementation of Nallenrinne site plan change no. 12577. The deviation permit application concerns the breeding and resting place of the northern bat (Eptesicus nilssonii), which is located in the southern part of the Helsinki-Malmi airport area in a building owned by the City of Helsinki.
The application is an exceptionally straightforward attempt to bypass natural values in order to speed up the city’s economic efforts. The ELY Centre’s decision to allow the deviation is also deficient, as it does not identify the property that is the subject of the application in more detail. Apparently, it is the same building whose demolition permit application led to a ban on endangering the airport area.
The Nature Conservation Act and the EU Habitats Directive are very clear on the matter. The decision has been justified by compelling need, but no alternatives have been studied or presented. In practice, the decision would not only harm the bat population observed in that one building, but it would likely destroy the existing population of bats in the entire area.
Exceptions to the city’s original plans are constantly being sought. It is obvious that the original plan is not valid and is in itself questionable. In its application, the city refers to agreements between the State and the City in housing production. In the agreements between the City and the State, however, the only references to housing construction at Malmi Airport can be found in the appendices to the Land Use, Housing and Transportation (MAL) agreements, where it is estimated that 0 housing units will be built in Malmi between 2016 and 2020. None of the MAL agreements of the capital region or their appendices require or suggest that apartments be built specifically in Malmi.
The operation of the ELY Centre in matters concerning Malmi Airport seems strange, as deviations to ignore the laws are granted without exception, justifying the matter with the needs of housing construction. The role of the ELY Centre in supervising, e.g., the Environmental Protection Act is not actualized. According to the law, the ELY Centre supervises the environmental and water permit decisions issued by the Regional Administrative Agency (AVI) and the public interest in environmental and water-related matters.