Complaints have been filed with the Helsinki Administrative Court against the Helsinki City Council’s decision to change the zoning plan of Malmi’s Nallenrinne and Lentoasemankorttelit blocks. Friends of Malmi Airport Association (FoMA) demands that the administrative court overturns the decisions as illegal.
Natural values ignored
In its complaint, the FoMA association emphasizes the complete disregard of nature values in planning. The versatile nature values of the airport area are still largely unexplored, and their impact assessments have not been done. The ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court on 10 May 2021, overturning the general plan of Östersundom in the eastern part of Helsinki, is particularly significant for these zoning plans as well. The Supreme Administrative Court has set generally high requirements for removing the uncertainty that endangers nature values caused by the implementation of the plan (the so-called precautionary principle).
In terms of natural values, the appeal emphasizes the legal evaluation of the airport’s meadow biotope and valuable forests around it, flying squirrels, bats, Longinoja sea trout, Vantaajoki tributary thick-shelled river mussels and other animal species (insects, mammals).
The planning principles were changed to conform to the plans
The principle of interaction has been violated in the planning. On December 11, 2018, the Helsinki City Environment Board decided to supplement Malmi Airport’s area action plan in such a way that it takes into account the preservation of the very important nature values of the airport area. The area action plan used as a starting point for the zoning plan was updated based on feedback to the zoning plans, so that the zoning plans would not conflict with the area action plan. Such a backwards procedure contradicts the interaction principle of zoning.
Cultural heritage and antiquities were forgotten
The zoning plans violate the principles of protection of Built Cultural Environments of National Significance (RKY), a designation that encompasses the area. The area has been slated for construction that does not meet the protection requirements of the RKY designation and significantly encroaches into the area of the Built Cultural Environment of National Significance, strongly changing its essence. Fortifications from the First World War, protected on the basis of the Antiquities Act, have been zoned for construction, i.e. they are designed to be completely destroyed.
Traffic arrangements unfeasible
The preconditions for the implementation of the tramway, which is the basis of the traffic arrangements of the zoning plans, were lost when Lahdenväylä’s urban boulevard was overturned from the general plan. In the area action plan, public transport in the Malmi airport area has been implemented with a light rail route along the Lahdenväylä city boulevard. According to the description of the zoning plan, Malmi’s public transport is based on two trunk lines. There is no binding implementation decision for either of these, and the second one is completely unfeasible as it goes against the general plan. Traffic arrangements are based on basic assumptions that cannot be solved with a zoning plan. The situation is similar to the Hernesaari zoning plan, where the administrative court overruled the zoning plan.
The fate of the border crossing point
The zoning plan does not contain regulations for timing the termination or continuation of the airport’s flight operations. Malmi airport is a border crossing point of entry confirmed by a government decree and thus also an external border of the Schengen area. The effects on flight operations or on ensuring the operating conditions of the border crossing point as defined in § 8 of the Government Decree (904/2016) have not been clarified.
The Malmi Airport border crossing point-of-entry involves a significant precedent on whether a municipality can change the plan designation of an active, government-confirmed national border crossing point in such a way that its operational prerequisites are lost.
Hope remains that flight operations will continue
Friends of Malmi Airport aims to preserve the operational prerequisites of the airport and still hopes for a dialogue with the city in order to continue flight operations. The city has been presented with numerous compromise solutions in which housing construction could begin quickly while flight operations continue. Unfortunately, the connection for dialogue has been cut off by the city a couple of years ago. The association continues its work and waits to see how the new City Council handles the matter.
In the Administrative Court, the average processing time for general administration matters is currently 12.3 months. Clarification: the processing time for site plan matters is currently approximately 10.8 months. Zoning plan matters fall under the matters of construction category (breakdown here, in Finnish).
The complaint (in Finnish):
Figure: immovable antiquities
Figure: Flying squirrel occurrence locations on the map, fall 2020 and winter 2021. Dog’s scent observations are shown with a red flag, detected droppings with a green flag, trees with twig nests or burrows in blue.
Figure: Places of occurrence of the flying squirrel on the zoning plan map of Nallenrinne. The trees marked by the dog are in red, the observations of droppings are in green. In the zoning plan, residential apartment buildings have been zoned over flying squirrel nesting trees, which would be destroyed. The plan is completely contrary to the Nature Conservation Act, the precautionary principle and the Supreme Administrative Court ruling KHO:2015:269 regarding the consideration of flying squirrels.
Figure: Places of occurrence of the flying squirrel on the zoning plan map of Lentoasemankorttelit. Residential apartment buildings have been zoned over flying squirrel occurrences. The plan is completely contrary to the Nature Conservation Act, the precautionary principle and the Supreme Administrative Court ruling KHO:2015:269 regarding the consideration of flying squirrels.
Figure: Bat obervations in the 2020 survey
Decision of the Helsinki City Council on 31 March 2021 § 79: Changing the zoning plan of Nallenrinne
Decision of the Helsinki City Council on 31 March 2021 § 80: Changing the zoning plan of Lentoasemankorttelit