STRING urges EU to stay committed to the current TEN-T transport policy
The existing EU regulation on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy should be maintained in its current form. The TEN-T policy is highly beneficial for sustainable development, says Thomas Becker, Managing Director of STRING.
TEN-T Consultation Response: STRING key messages on the development of the trans-European transport network
As committed partners to the TEN-T policy, STRING and its members are actively working to complete the northern part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor between Oslo and Hamburg. By 2030 we strive to establish a customer-friendly and efficient transport system linking Northern Europe to Central Europe and a system that paves the way for sustainable growth and integration between Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
An important step has been taken to create a megaregion
Following editorial adjustments, the German authority APV / Amt für Planfeststellung Verkehr has now signed the authority approval of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel, and Femern A/S has received the approval. The signing is a landmark in our efforts to make the STRING region a megaregion and a global powerhouse for sustainability, says STRING Co-operation Thomas Becker.
Conditional extension of contracts for the Fehmarn Tunnel
Femern A / S has extended its temporary agreement with the Fehmarn Link Contractors (FLC). The consortium will perform three of the four major plant centers on the Fehmarnbelt link, with a total budget of 52.6 billion. kr.
The supplementary agreement means that the conditional contracts have been extended for a year and now run until the end of 2020. The cost of extending the contracts with the contractors amounts to approximately 45 million Danish Crowns, the Danish Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing has stated.
The agreement has been fset out due to the German authority approval is taking longer than expected.
The latest delay was in the spring when Schleswig-Holstein Transport Minister Bernd Buchholz (FDP) announced that the building permit will not come until the end of 2018 and not this summer, as initially expected by the Danish side.
When the approval is granted, German tunnel opponents will subsequently seek a complaint with the Federal Administrative Court. Experts assess that this may take two years. Only after a court case can the final building permit be issued and construction can start.
The best from the Fehmarnbelt Days
By Casper Ravnsted-Larsen, Zealand Denmark
Full and unconditional support for Fehmarn from three national governments
If there was any doubt left whether the Fehmarn Connection would happen, and whether the Germans really want it, now no one should have any doubt at all. The organizers had ensured that five ambassadors from and in Sweden, Denmark and Germany could guarantee their unreserved support for the Fehmarn project from the beginning of the conference’s first hours.
Later, three ministers appeared and said the same thing: The Danish Minister of Transport, Ole Birk Olesen, was thus flanked by his Swedish colleague Tomas Eneroth and Bernd Buchholz, Minister of Economy, Transport, Employment, Innovation and Tourism in Schleswig-Holstein, all harvesting much applause at the message that they all see opportunities in Fehmarn Tunnel.
Asked if he lacked support from his German and Swedish colleagues, in connection with the financing of the tunnel, Ole Birk Olesen’s answer was no. And that the Danish government does not see any problems in this kind of investment:
“We know it’s a good investment. In fact, the connection will in the long term become a real cash cow for the Danish government (and thus the Danish taxpayers, Ed.).
“With the fixed link, we are creating a whole new area ofintegration – it’s a very exciting development,” he said.
Three transport ministers: Tomas Eneroth, Bernd Buchholz and Ole Birke Olesen. Photo: Olaf Malzahn
Greater market and easier access for businesses
The chairman of the Regional Council of Region Zealand Heino Knudsen, who is also chairman of the Greater Copenhagen and Skåne Committee, opened the Fehmarnbelt Business Council’s event on the role of business in creating development in the Fehmarn region.
“The Scandinavian companies have easy access to one of the largest ports in northern Europe in Hamburg. And from Hamburg you will have easy access to Copenhagen Airport with connections that extend all over the world”.
“An example: The Swedish bread company Pågen can reach 30 million consumers in Europe after the Fehmarn Connection has been opened. That means a lot to a producer of fresh bread and, from my point of view, to a lot of other businesses in the region”, he said.
Later, the Mayor of Lolland Municipality Holger Schou Rasmussen also stated:
“If I were King of Fehmarn, I would make the region the leader in the world in green technologies and sell them to the whole world”.
Fixed connections create coalitions
What does the TV series The Bridge have to do with the Fehmarn Tunnel? Swedish actor Sofia Helin who plays the lead role as Saga Norén in the series tried to answer that question.
She was invited to speak at the Fehmarnbelt Days because of her special relationship with the Øresund Bridge. An almost human relationship, she explained, having spent as much time as she did during the filming of the the series.
Helin explained what a construction of concrete and steel can do for the understanding from both sides of the bridge and the cultural and social integration that the Øresund Bridge has brought between Danes and Swedes.
– Because of the Øresund Bridge, people from the southern part of Sweden feel more like a part of Europe. I believe in building relationships, so of course I believe in the Fehmarn project, she said.
You can look through the live tweets on Fehmarnbelt Days by searching for the hashtag #FBD18 on Twitter or clicking HERE
Let us talk about sustainable development
“I do not believe in a greener society through growth.” Clearly, Professor Frederik NG Andersson’s premise was very clear when he opened the discussion on the possibilities for the creation of a green STRING corridor. According to the professor, to create a greener development in the corridor, you have to change the direction towards a shift – while putting traditional economic concepts on the shelf.
Green does not only mean to avoid environmental impact, but also to strengthen the environment. It follows that in Frederik NG Andersson’s view, growth means only economic growth and increased economic and social welfare.
You cannot do both at the same time, Andersson said. His suggestion: If you want a green shift, you must set new priorities, connect new players to the green shift agenda and think across sectors and traditional boundaries.
Relationship to STRING Strategy 2040
Professor Jörg Knieling, Head of Urban Planning and Regional Development at the HafenCity University in Hamburg, spoke of the concept of green growth in relation to STRING’s 2040 strategy and attempted to establish a link with the political goal of sustainable growth.
For Knieling, traditional growth initially builds on efficiency. If sustainable growth is the aim, you have to do more: less resource consumption, modes of local and regional self-sufficient economy (especially agriculture), but also new social thinking and bottom-up initiatives as ‘pioneers’ and ‘mastermind’.
According to Knieling, sustainability in regional development is a Game Changer. The challenge: Nobody knows what development will bring about in 30 or 50 years. Therefore, it is important today to be interested in niche innovations – and to achieve sustainability through the introduction of a circular economy and Value Change Management. The vision, says Knieling, is a circular and regenerative development – and not just in the STRING corridor.
But does the STRING corridor have a chance – and the will – to open up to these thoughts? The challenge is, Knieling and Andersson agree, to move STRING to where new thoughts arise – and to get the organization to accept the authors of these new thoughts as partners.
Green projects as cases
Niels Hoe, co-founder of the consulting firm HOE360 Consulting in Copenhagen, spoke afterwards on the process that made Copenhagen the leading cycling city in Europe. And how the bicycle has become a main part of the city’s concept of public transport.
Claes Kanold, Mobility Services, Ruters A/S, Norway, spoke of his traffic company’s efforts towards children and their parents to make collective transport “on demand” palatable, especially when it comes to transporting children from school to their spare time activities. This resulted in a noticeable decline in the use of private cars.
Tobias Åbonde, deputy director of BRING Express in Sweden, spoke of the “Beloved City” project in Stockholm, where a centralized packet distribution with smaller electric lorries simultaneously provides for waste disposal – thus relieving air pollution in the inner city.
Thomas Jacobs from Hamburg State Chancellery talked of a number of international EU-supported projects that tested circular economics in a number of areas at a local level, also in a number of other European cities.
In the subsequent panel discussion, Jörg Knieling discussed with Region Skåne Vice Chairman Mätta Ivarsson, Henrik Gudmundsson, Senior Consultant at CONCITO in Denmark and Nina Vogel, Program Coordinator at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU Urban Futures, the lessons learned lessons of the event. What can and must be done to bring the STRING region forward in a sustainable way?
The list on the board was long. One of the most important points: Participate in the development. And pursue co-co-co cooperation.
STRING welcomes the OECD Territorial Review on the Megaregion of Western Scandinavia
The review gives new insights on the importance of cooperation between metropolitan regions and
further strengthens the case for the development of key infrastructure investments along the corridor from Hamburg to Oslo.
In the review, the OECD has credibly demonstrated the importance of closer cooperation between our metropolitan regions in order to maintain and increase the competitiveness of our cities and regions and thereby create a fertile soil for economic growth and welfare. The OECD also recommends cross border cooperation at the national level to build infrastructure and harmonize regulations. Western Scandinavia as presented in the OECD review has shown a strong capacity to establish new positions in the fast transitioning global value chains in the last decade and has a lot of potential in areas that are important in the current STRING 2040 strategy.
– The OECD study shows the importance of closer cooperation in order to become a fully integrated megaregion. With an enlarged STRING network we have the means to fulfill some of the key recommendations that the OECD gives regarding green growth and infrastructure, says Mätta Ivarsson, Chair of the Regional Development Committee at Region Skåne.
Today, shortcomings appear in certain parts of the infrastructure connecting the regions in the STRING network. When the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is completed, the freight traffic is expected to increase even more.
In line with the OECD recommendations, the STRING network will work intensively to get the necessary investments in rail infrastructure. The poor railway network on the route Malmö-Gothenburg-Oslo is in sharp contrast to our countries’ ambitious climate targets and is preventing an additional integration of our labor markets.
– In our view, it is vital for the STRING geography that we get a well-functioning railway network along the Oslo-Gothenburg-Malmö corridor in the coming years, in order to meet the projected increase of demand on transport following the construction of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link. STRING assumes that the affected countries will work more actively in the future in order to find innovative solutions for our common infrastructure priorities, says Mätta Ivarsson, Chair of the Regional Development Committee at Region Skåne.
Cross border transport projects tend to fall outside national planning frameworks. In the review, the OECD therefore recommends the creation of cross-border transport commissions to help implement a better coordinated approach to cross-border transport planning. This is of course one of the main issues on the STRING network’s upcoming agenda.
You can find the OECD Territorial Review on the Megaregion of Western Scandinavia HERE
Find the full STRING statement HERE
STRING supports the continued emphasis on transport infrastructure in the EU budget proposal
In a joint statement, the STRING members said that mobility of goods and people is a central pillar of economic and social cohesion, sustaining business, trade, travel and tourism both within EU and with neighbouring countries. Integrated, up-to-date and sustainable transport networks, not least across borders, are key drivers of economic growth, job creation and ensuring a good quality of life for all citizens.
Therefore, STRING welcomes the Commission’s proposal to continue the emphasis on cross-border transport as well as enhanced support for decarbonisation of the transport sector in the EU’s next budget period (2021-2027).
STRING members see CEF as a central mechanism delivering high EU added value in the transport sector as it finances a multitude of transport projects necessary to complete the TEN-T network.
“We very much look forward to contributing to the coming discussions concerning the final design of the Connecting Europe Facility”, says Chair of STRING Dr. Annette Tabbara, State Secretary of the City of Hamburg. “Developing and improving European transport infrastructure via the TEN-T network and the Connecting Europe Facility must remain a key EU priority. The Fehmarnbelt Tunnel is a brilliant example of this and needs continued focus in the next budget period”.
STRING also endorsed the focus on integrating transport networks between Norway and the EU. According to STRING, linking Norway with the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor and recognizing the effects on trade and regional cooperation and development should be highly prioritized and collaboration between Norway and the EU should be intensified.
Read the full statement HERE
Solid support for the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel
In Denmark, 61 percent of the population on Zealand, outside the Capital area of Copenhagen, are positive towards the Link while only 8 percent are negative.
In Germany, 39 percent of the population in Schleswig-Holstein are positive and 15 percent are negative. One percent higher on the positive side and one percent lower on the negative side compared to the survey from 2017 – i.e. the same result.
In Sweden, 43 percent of the population of Region Skåne are positive and only 3 percent are negative towards the link.
This is the result of a survey conducted by the YouGov Institute on behalf of STRING.
Source: YouGov on-line (CAWI) survey conducted in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Zealand (incl. Copenhagen) in Denmark, Region Skåne, Halland and Västra Götaland in Sweden and Østfold and Akershus Fylker in Norway. Data was collected in the period April 23rd – May 1st 2018. The respondents were aged 18+.
Looking at the total results, the Danes are the most positive towards the Fixed Link: a total of 50 percent of the population on all Zealand are positive, only 11 percent are negative and 30 percent undecided.
In all regions on the west coast of Sweden, 37 are positive, 3 percent are negative and 34 percent are undecided.
In Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, the combined total shows that 36 percent are positive, only 13 percent are negative and as many as 43 percent are undecided.
In eastern Norway 28 percent are positive, 3 percent are negative and 28 percent are neutral – and as many as 42 percent do not know.
“The figures shows a sustainable support for the Fixed Link close to the Fehmarnbelt where it has been discussed the most. However, the inauguration is many years ahead and the construction has not yet started for real. Therefore, many people are undecided”, says Managing Director Jacob Vestergaard of STRING, and continues:
“The closer the Link gets to realization – and even more so after the inauguration when in real utilization – the more popular the Link will be. Looking at the support for The Great Belt and the Øresund Bridges today, 20 years after the opening of The Great Belt Bridge and 18 years after Øresund, the real benefits are obvious and the support significant.”
Vestergaard is referring to fresh figures from the same YouGov survey:
83 percent of the population on Zealand are positive towards the Great Belt Bridge, 3 percent are negative and 12 percent are neutral.
Regarding Øresund, 78 percent of the population on Zealand are positive 3 percent are negative and 15 percent neutral.
In Western Sweden 77 percent of the population are positive towards the Øresund Bridge, 5 percent are negative and 15 percent are neutral.
About the survey:
The survey was conducted in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, Zealand including Copenhagen in Denmark, Region Skåne, Halland and Västra Götaland in Sweden and Østfold and Akershus Counties in Norway. Data was collected in the period April 23rd – May 1st 2018. The respondents were aged 18+. All interviews were collected on-line (CAWI) and the results have been weighed against the total population in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway and are as such representative for the mentioned regions.