Government proposes a maximum duration for permit-granting procedures for large-scale TEN-T projects and a streamlined decision-making process for highways classification
The proposed new act would set a maximum duration of four years for the permit-granting procedures related to large-scale projects on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The classification process for highways would also be simplified. The Government submitted its proposal to Parliament on 17 November 2021.
The Government proposes that a new act be enacted to implement the so-called Smart TEN-T directive. The act would also streamline the decision-making process on the classification of highways as they would no longer be classified by decree.
Permit-granting procedures for TEN-T projects to be accelerated
The aim of the directive is to accelerate the permit-granting procedures for large-scale 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 serving as a contact point for the project implementer and other authorities and monitoring 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.
Traficom to confirm the highway classifications
The Act on the Transport System and Highways would be amended so that, in future, Traficom 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. The act would contain provisions on the opportunity of those municipalities and regional councils in whose area the highway is situated to 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 this year. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has requested the Finnish Transport Agency to conduct a separate process to examine, in cooperation with the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and regional transport system operators, the need for changes in road classification. This would be carried out in accordance with the assessment memorandum on the updating of the functional classification of roads and the feedback received on it, utilising regional transport system cooperation. The work is about to begin and is due to be completed by April 2023.
A referral debate will be held on the proposal submitted by the Government on 17 November 2022 to Parliament. The timetable for the debate will be listed on Parliament's website (upcoming plenary sessions). After the referral debate, the proposal will be sent to a Parliamentary Committee. The acts are due to come into force during 2023.
Eeva Ovaska, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 342 113, [email protected]