"Why should we put up with more delays to the Fehmarnbelt project? There is no political majority in Germany - neither in Berlin nor Kiel - that wants to stop the construction. So why these delays? Let's get started so that both sides of Fehmarn can begin to capitalise on the many benefits of the new infrastructure."
This was the clear message from Steen Bach Nielsen, the Chairman of STRING, the day before the final and crucial consultations on the Fehmarnbelt fixed link get underway in Lübeck.
Meaningless legal case
When the consultations are over, the authorities in Kiel will begin preparing construction permission for Femern A/S. This is expected to be completed in the summer of 2018 after which construction can, in principle, get underway. But an application may be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court that may postpone the start of construction by another two years. Indeed, the opposition organisations hope for four.
"But it makes no sense to postpone the start of construction any further. Everyone - including the environmental organisations that are fighting to postpone the start of construction - acknowledge that the link will be built. Therefore, any complaint to the Federal Court should not have a suspensive effect," said Steen Bach Nielsen.
Survey shows support
He also refers to the most recent YouGov survey carried out on behalf of STRING that shows there is widespread support for the link in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. In Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, 35% are positive towards the link and only 13% are negative.
"There are a huge number of gains for Sweden, Denmark and Germany from upgrading the infrastructure that the Fehmarnbelt fixed link is a key part of. Ensuring that the link opens in 2026 instead of 2028 will benefit the whole of Europe and European co-operation," says Steen Bach Nielsen, adding:
"There is only one winner from postponing the start to construction and that is Scandlines, that earns millions of euros for its owners, 3i, the venture capital company, every year."
Danish Environmental Organisations
Steen Bach Nielsen also believes that it is thought-provoking that the Danish environmental organisations actually support the link and that they have co-operated constructively with the authorities and the client about environmental improvements, and that they have positive experiences from the Storebælt and Øresund fixed links.
"The exact opposite is the case with the German environmental organisations who do not wish to negotiate and who - in an incomprehensible alliance with the venture capital company - are trying their best to delay the link's opening. This, in turn, will not only delay the transport-related environmental benefits that the link will bring about, but also the link's economic benefits and the better quality of life for those living in the region who will get more choice and improved mobility."