The City of Helsinki is about to start heavy excavation and mass exchange work in the Malmi Airport area even though the relevant decisions are not legally binding. The situation is reminiscent of the destruction of Chicago Meigs Airport in 2003 , when the city mayor illegally had the airport dug up to prevent operations. The City of Helsinki has already fenced off the area slated for excavation work even though its legal status is still an airport.
The matter of the building permit and the right to start work is still pending in the Supreme Administrative Court. The heavy-duty driving training area planned for the Malmi Airport area with the temporary building permit threatens the airport’s valuable meadow nature and the nationally significant built cultural environment (RKY).
The Friends of Malmi Airport Association has today requested the ELY Center to urgently impose an action ban on the area on the basis of surveys related to the conservation of biodiversity and other natural values not having being made, and for reasons related to the preservation of the area’s internationally significant built cultural environment.
The work on the construction site involves the destruction of meadow nature in an area whose nature values related to vegetation and biodiversity have not been surveyed by the city. In the area subject to the measures, there is a population of, e.g., the endangered (EN) green thrush (calamia tridens) and a wide range of other butterflies, some of which are vulnerable (VU) or near threatened (NT). It is also part of the most significant resting place in Finland of the critically endangered (CR) great snipe (gallinago media) during migration, and is located next to identified core areas of the flying squirrel (pteromys volans). It is a particularly strange activity to destroy the meadows of the area to be built in a hurry, when there is a bill on the nature of the whole area being processed in Parliament.
The area affected by the measures is also located in the most important part of the nationally significant built cultural environment (RKY), right next to the historic buildings, and the planned construction measures will significantly alter the landscape of the RKY area.
Zoning plans equally void of nature surveys have been drawn for the area. These plans have not become final, as they have been the subject of dissenting opinions already in the City Board and have been appealed to the Administrative Court.
The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of 10 May 2021 (KHO: 2021: 60) has a special significance for this building permit as well, especially in the section “Legal assessment of the adequacy of the studies and impact assessments on which the planning decision is based”. In the summary of its decision, the Supreme Administrative Court has set generally high standards for eliminating the uncertainty that endangers the natural values if the plans are implemented (the so-called precautionary principle).
According to the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, the non-occurrence of any adverse effects must be “fully based on complete, precise and definitive conclusions, as meant in the case-law of the EU Court, which dispel any scientific doubt as to the effects of the proposed works”.
The Friends of Malmi Airport Association demands that the works be suspended immediately until the said issues have been clarified.