Introducing maximum duration for permit-granting procedures for large TEN-T Transport Network projects and changes to decision-making on highway classification — draft bills circulated for comments

Press release 29.07.2022 17.23 fi sv en

Bus and cars at junction in Jyväskylä (Photo: Juha Tuomi / Rodeo)

The proposed new legislation would set a maximum duration of four years for the permit-granting procedures related to large projects on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). In addition, it would also streamline decision-making on the classification of highways, and they would no longer be classified by decree. The Ministry of Transport and Communications requests comments on the draft government proposal by 7 September 2022.

According to the proposal, a new act would be enacted to implement the Smart TEN-T directive. The aim of the directive is to accelerate the permit-granting procedures for large TEN-T projects.

The act would mainly apply to projects on the TEN-T core network corridors, with a total cost exceeding EUR 300 million. The Transport and Communications Agency Traficom would be the national authority that would, among other things, serve as a contact point for the project implementer and other authorities and monitor that the administrative procedures of the project progress according to the schedule. 

The TEN-T Network links railways, inland waterways, roads and sea and air connections into a Europe-wide transport network. In Finland, the length of the road and rail network belonging to the TEN-T Network is approximately 8,800 kilometres, of which the core network corridors cover approximately 2,460 kilometres.

Two core network corridors, the North Sea-Baltic Corridor and the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor, pass through Finland. The North Sea-Baltic Corridor runs north from Helsinki and further to Sweden via Tornio. The Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor runs from Turku via Helsinki to the Russian border at Vaalimaa and Vainikkala. Moreover, the corridors include the airports of Turku and Helsinki-Vantaa, the ports of Turku, Naantali, Helsinki and HaminaKotka, as well as the Kouvola railway and road terminal.

In addition, the Act on the Transport System and Highways would be amended so that, in future, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency would confirm, on the proposal of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency or the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, whether a highway is classified as a main road belonging to Class I or Class II or as a regional or connecting road. The decision would be made in connection with the final engineering plan or as a separate matter. Currently, the classification of highways must be decided by decree. It is also proposed that the act would contain provisions on how those municipalities and regional councils in whose area the highway is situated could participate in the preparation process. The act would not amend the principles governing the classification of highways as main roads Class I, main roads Class II, regional roads or connecting roads, but the principles could be further specified by decree. This classification indicates the significance of highways as traffic arteries and links between regions.

Updating the functional categories of highways is one of the measures of the national transport system plan for 2022. The concrete needs to change road categories will be examined in a separate process, which will be carried out in accordance with the memorandum on updating the functional categories of highways and the comments received on it. Moreover, the process will utilise regional transport system cooperation. The work is scheduled to start in autumn 2022.

What's next?

The deadline for comments is 7 September 2022. All organisations and private individuals are invited to comment online at www.lausuntopalvelu.fi or by email to kirjaamo.lvm@gov.fi.

The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament in November 2022. The proposed acts would enter into force during 2023.

Inquiries:

Eeva Ovaska, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 342 113, eeva.ovaska@gov.fi. (27 July to 3 August)

Susan Hindström, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 342 104, susan.hindstrom@gov.fi (8 August to 1 September)