Open letter to the City of Helsinki from the City Councilors of Helsinki

Seppo SipiläNews archive

Published 23 October 2019

Dear Mayor Jan Vapaavuori and city officials,

We, the undersigned City Councilors and Deputy Councilors, are concerned about Helsinki’s entrepreneur-friendly image, cultural reputation and natural values. The harsh attitude of the City of Helsinki towards the unique Helsinki-Malmi Airport and its aviation activities is incomprehensible. It has become a matter of principle that no longer has anything to do with housing needs.

Entrepreneurs operating at the airport have contacted us saying that the city will not discuss the matter. This cannot be Helsinki’s way of doing things. The situation must be calmed down and the continuity of entrepreneurs’ livelihoods must be guaranteed. Helsinki needs aviation, and aviation needs an airport. The traffic communication and livelihood of small aviation must be preserved in Helsinki, too, because intelligent aviation is developing faster than anyone could foresee a moment ago.

The entrepreneurs at the airport are facing an acute crisis. Business must not be stopped by blocking flight operations, as the area is not needed for other purposes for years to come. The substitutive facilities required by Parliament have not been implemented in the region of Helsinki. The City must urge the State to implement the alternative solutions in line with the statement of Parliament.

The nature of Malmi Airport is important to the inhabitants of the northeast and the city as a whole. We have heard about the airport’s endangered species, some even protected by EU directives, on walks organized by nature experts. The airport has evolved into a unique nature haven in Helsinki. According to experts, it is practically impossible to save it if the area is used as planned for residential construction. The decision of the Urban Environment Board should be respected and natural values ​​should be taken into account, especially in the planning of the area. To this end, a rigorous environmental impact assessment must be carried out, which, in the light of new information, will also investigate the site’s suitability to construction, emissions of construcion, and toxic sulphide clay deposits adjacent to one of Helsinki’s groundwater areas.

The airport is an important site of cultural heritage, memory and life experience to the people of Helsinki. Childhood memories of air travel, stag party flights, and parachutists screaming with excitement are all part of this world-renowned airport complex. The plans for this potential UNESCO site need to be refined so that the cultural values are preserved.

The people of Helsinki have repeatedly demanded that the airport be saved. Consultation of the city residents in accordance with the city’s strategy must take place also in practice and not just on paper. Many initiatives have been brought to the City, among them even the biggest municipal initiative in Finland, which was rejected by the Council on the grounds of representative democracy. The voice of the citizens, however, must also be heard between elections. The opinion of the majority of Helsinkians must not be condemned without investigation.

At the moment, Helsinkians are demanding a municipal referendum on whether or not to continue to use the airport for aviation. Many people in Helsinki have signed the initiative, regardless of their position, because they want to have a direct say in the matter. Every delegate should also sign the initiative, as it is a matter of citizens’ democracy. The required 4% (22,000) of the population will inevitably be met in the near future thanks to numerous active citizens.

The situation being as confused as it is, the City must immediately release the entrepreneurs from the acute threat and take a time out. Leases enabling the operation of aircraft must be renewed for at least two years. Negotiations with the State must to be pursued, demanding the fulfillment of its obligations. For example, the airport area could be swapped with the Ilmala area within the urban structure now as the railway depots are being moved out of Helsinki.

There is enough building land in Helsinki for decades, so there is no hurry with Malmi’s residential construction. Long administrative lawsuits are not in anyone’s interest. Now let’s plan things well and not hurry.

Helsinki, 23 October 2019

Outi Alanen (Left Alliance)

Sirpa Asko-Seljavaara (Coalition)

Eva Biaudet (Swedish)

Mika Ebeling (Christian Democrats)

Laura Finne-Elonen (Swedish)

Juha Hakola (Coalition)

Jussi Halla-aho (Finns)

Joel Harkimo (Movement Now)

Nuutti Hyttinen (Finns)

Atte Kaleva (Coalition)

Tapio Klemetti (Coalition)

Laura Kolbe (Center)

Pia Kopra (Finns)

Kauko Koskinen (Coalition)

Terhi Koulumies (Coalition)

Heimo Laaksonen (Coalition)

Sami (Frank) Muttilainen (Left Alliance)

Björn Månsson (Swedish)

Jarmo Nieminen (Greens)

Jussi Niinistö (Blue Future)

Mia Nygård (Coalition)

Dennis Pasterstein (Coalition)

Jaana Pelkonen (Coalition)

Terhi Peltokorpi (Center)

Petrus Pennanen (Pirates)

Pekka Puska (Center)

Mika Raatikainen (Finns)

Marcus Rantala (Swedish)

Mari Rantanen (Finns)

Mirita Saxberg (Movement Now)

Juhani Strandén (Finns)

Sampo Terho (Blue Future)

Kimmo Tiilikainen (Center)

Matias Turkkila (Finns)

Ulla-Marja Urho (Coalition)

Tuomo Valokainen (indep./Social Democrats)

Mauri Venemies (Christian Democrats)

Sinikka Vepsä (Social Democrats)

Paavo Väyrynen (Seven Stars)

The following Councilors and Deputy Councilors also lend their support:

Toni Ahva (Blue Future)

Perttu Hillman (Coalition)

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