The preparation of the road connection from Oulunsalo to Hailuoto is to be suspended due to an appeal. On 11 February 2020, the Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland granted the North Ostrobothnia ELY Centre a permit under the Water Act for the construction of embankments and two bridges from Riutunkari in Oulu to Huikku in Hailuoto. The North Ostrobothnia District Association of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation made an appeal against the Hailuoto road connection within the appeal period to the Vaasa Administrative Court.
Appeal will delay start of procurement by at least a year
‘The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, which is responsible for the implementation of the project, has constantly given the highest priority to environmental issues in this project, and we do not recognise in the appeal any issues that would have been inadequately taken into account,’ says Director Lars Westermark from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
‘The preparation of the procurement must now be suspended, as we only build based on legally valid permits. The processing of the complaint in Vaasa Administrative Court will delay the start of the project by at least a year,’ Westermark adds. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency has prepared to commence the procurement once the appeal process is complete.
North Ostrobothnia ELY Centre has taken environmental matters into account and carried out comprehensive nature surveys during the planning stage
The planning of the project has been a long and multi-stage process. Already at an earlier stage, the general plans and road plan for the project become legally valid. The environmental and nature surveys have been given priority in an exceptionally versatile and comprehensive manner in the planning. The planning phase involved implementation of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), Natura assessments and, most recently, the water permit process, which also includes a monitoring programme for nature impacts. The Ministry of the Environment has concluded in its statement on the Natura assessment that the embankment road can be implemented in a manner that does not have a significant negative impact on the conservation objectives of Natura 2000 sites within the scope of the project.
The ELY Centre believes that the planning work and the reports produced are comprehensive and based on the best expertise. The project planning process has been interactive and all parties have been given the opportunity to participate.
‘It is extremely unfortunate that the implementation of the project will be delayed,’ says Head of Unit Risto Leppänen from the Transport and Infrastructure Division of the ELY Centre for Northern Ostrobothnia.
Delays incur costs to taxpayers
In the current situation, Hailuoto's transport service level is worse than elsewhere in the region due to a shortage of ferry traffic crossings and absence of night-time crossings. A road connection between the municipality of Hailuoto and the rest of the Oulu region is important for achieving and maintaining safety, functional transport connections, and the vitality of the region.
In addition to the poor service level, the ferry connection is also expensive. The delay will incur costs to taxpayers of €8–10 million, primarily due to the ferry costs.
Implementing a functional transport connection is important not only for the smoothness and safety of Hailuoto residents’ daily lives, but also for the vitality and competitiveness of companies in the municipality and the promotion of tourism.
When implemented, the project will directly employ approximately 200 people, and there will also be a significant boost to the region’s economy through indirect employment effects.
Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency
Director Lars Westermark
tel. +358 (0)29 534 3838
North Ostrobothnia ELY Centre
Head of Unit, Risto Leppänen
tel. +358 (0)295 038 262
A road connection will be built between Riutunkari in Oulu and Huikku in Hailuoto. This will replace the current ferry connection. The length of the road connection is about 8.4 km, including an embankment section and long bridges at Hiukku and Riutu. The road connection will improve Hailuoto's national and regional accessibility. It will enable smoother connections for passenger and freight traffic to Hailuoto and for local business activities, and will also expand Hailuoto's commuting area.
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