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Private Roads Act reformed to support road network development and maintenance

Private Roads Act reformed to support road network development and maintenance

Tiedote 19.10.2017 13.40 fi sv en

The Private Roads Act of 1963 will be reformed to meet today’s needs. The aim is to promote the development and maintenance of the network of private roads. Most of the roads in Finland are private roads.

The legislative proposal aims to increase the power of decision by members of road associations, transfer tasks from the municipal road committees to other operators, and reform the criteria for and the distribution of discretionary government grants for private roads. Another goal is to clarify the responsibilities of different parties with regard to the construction, maintenance and use of private roads and allow municipalities, counties and the State become members in road associations.

“The Private Roads Act gets a much needed update. The aim is to promote new business activities and safeguard smoothly running transport services for business and industry. The reform will also improve the transport conditions for people living on private roads,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

The Government submitted a proposal on a Private Roads Act to Parliament on Thursday, 19 October. The proposal will advance the Government’s key project on deregulation and reduce the duties of municipalities. The Government proposes that the Act enter into force on 1 January 2020.

Road association members would get the right to decide the place where underground lines and related minor equipment serving facilities or the community are installed in the private road area. Landowner’s permission would no longer be needed. Instead, the road association could authorise the installation of underground lines in the private road area.

The duties of municipal road committees would be transferred to other operators, and the road committees would be dissolved to reduce the duties of municipalities. In the future, the National Land Survey of Finland or the municipal real estate formation authorities would process all private road survey matters, such as the establishment and dissolution of right of way and the determination of fees. Road association members would also be able to decide on the founding or merging of road associations without referring the matter to the private road survey.

The Government proposes that the duties of municipalities regarding the assessment of street management responsibilities, the convening of meetings of road associations and the use of administrative enforcement be transferred to the National Licensing and Supervisory Authority, established as part of the forthcoming regional government reform. The processing of licences concerning the removal of buildings and plants and the granting of exceptions to building restrictions would be transferred to the building inspection authorities in municipalities. Complaints filed against decisions of road associations would be dealt by the District Court, as is the case in other community legislation.

Counties could decide the distribution of funding

The Government proposes that the right to decide the distribution of the current discretionary government transfers be transferred to the counties when they start operating in 2020. There would be fewer criteria for funding, and the counties could decide how funds are distributed. The remaining funding criteria would concern the degree of private road organisation and the availability, timeliness and openness of private road data.

The purpose of the new Private Roads Act is to clarify the responsibilities of different parties with regard to the construction, maintenance and use of private roads. The new act would highlight that the use of private roads by non-members is subject to a permit. It would also clarify the regulations on charging fees for using private roads. As a rule, non-members would need a permit to use a private road, and they could be charged a fee for using the road. However, as before, no permit would be needed for using the road in ways that do not significantly increase the costs of maintaining the road. The right of access to private land is outside the scope of the reform.

Road associations would be open to municipalities, counties and the State

The Government proposes that the new Private Roads Act would allow the establishment of right of way even for municipalities, counties or the State in cases where public transport would also operate on private roads. Examples include situations where traffic on a private road increases considerably due to changes to local land use plans. The new Act would clarify the rules governing the status of private roads in areas where a land use plan is in force.

The Government also aims to encourage road association members to raise their degree of organisation and maintain data on private roads. In the future, the road maintenance associations could establish their own rules concerning specific issues that could deviate from what is provided in the Act. They could also outsource the maintenance of the private road.

The government proposal includes also minor amendments to the Real Estate Formation Act, the Land Use and Building Act, the Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry, the Outdoor Recreation Act, the Act on Land Consolidation on account of Water Body Projects, the Act on Compensation for Environmental Damage, the Act on Jointly Owned Forests, the Mining Act, and the Act on State-owned Limited Liability Company for Forestry.

Inquiries

Director-General Mikael Nyberg, tel +358 40 837 8794, firstname.surname@lvm.fi, Twitter @nyberg_mikael

Senior Officer Kaisa Kuukasjärvi, tel +358 50 414 0330, firstname.surname@lvm.fi, Twitter @KuuKaisa