Malmi Airport protection proposal taken to Supreme Administrative Court

Seppo SipiläFor the press, News archive

The case of protecting Malmi Airport as a whole has been brought before the Supreme Administrative Court.

Friends of Malmi Airport Association (FoMA) proposed the protection of the airport area under the Building Heritage Act on October 15, 2015. The Uusimaa Centre for Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) rejected the protection application, justifying the matter on the basis of the Land Use and Building Act and claiming that it had discretion in choosing the applicable law. 

In 2019, the Ministry of the Environment returned the decision back to ELY to be resolved with an overall consideration according to the Building Heritage Act. After the minister changed, though, the Ministry changed its decision so that ELY was given the authority to primarily apply the Land Use and Construction Act.

The first decision was prepared by a group of top experts in building heritage during the term of Minister Tiilikainen (Centre Party). Minister Mikkonen (Green League) appointed just one legal expert specializing in land use to formulate the other statement.

The case has now been processed in the Helsinki Administrative Court. It decided against the constitution, arguing that the protection proposal did not have to be processed on the basis of the Building Heritage Act, but that the land use and construction act can be chosen as the law to be applied. The administrative court made its decision with insufficient grounds and based on different legal points than FoMA had invoked in its appeal.

The chairman of the association, Timo Hyvönen, is amazed at the decision-making. “The matter appears to be considered politically, not on the basis of the law.”

The grounds for the administrative court’s decision are unsustainable

In the legal reasoning of the grounds for the decision issued by the Administrative Court on July 5, 2022, Section 2, Subsection 3, Clause 1 of the Building Heritage Act has been completely neglected, even though it was specifically the basis for the Ministry of the Environment having already once returned the protection proposal to the ELY Center for reconsideration. The Administrative Court justified its decision with an overall consideration and points 2 and 3 of the same subsection.

The statement of the City of Helsinki issued on February 5, 2018, in which it is claimed that protection would prevent the implementation of the Land Use Agreement (MAL) between Helsinki and the State, is central to the grounds for the decision of the Administrative Court. The Administrative Court has accepted Helsinki’s claim as true without a more detailed assessment. In the MAL agreements in question, no housing production has been assigned to Malmi Airport, and nothing is specifically mentioned about the airport. The only reference to Malmi can be found in the appendix of the MAL agreement 2012–2015, where the airport’s estimated housing production is marked as zero, i.e. no housing.

Heritage Finland and several cultural organizations want to preserve the airport

The Malmi Airport complex is a Built Cultural Environment of National Significance (RKY) listed by Heritage Finland as a whole, and it has also been noted with significant attention by several international expert organizations and networks in the field of cultural heritage (links below). The expert organization ICOMOS, which directly advises UNESCO’s World Heritage Program, put it once again in the international cultural heritage spotlight in its four-year report Heritage at Risk. World Report 2016-2019 on Monuments and Sites in Danger in 2021.

Appeal permit application and appeal (in Finnish): https://www.malmiairport.fi/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/kho2022_suojelu.pdf

Original protection proposal 2015: https://www.malmiairport.fi/tiedote-15-10-2015-malmin-lentoasemakokonaisuus-esitetty-suojeltavaksi/ 

Building Heritage Act (in Finnish): https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2010/20100498

Build Cultural Environments of National Significance (RKY, in Finnish): http://www.rky.fi/read/asp/r_kohde_det.aspx?KOHDE_ID=1560 

World Monuments Fund (2004, 2006)

Docomomo (1991, 2017) 

Europa Nostra (2004/2006).