In June, the Ministry of the Environment gave the Swedish Transport Administration the go-ahead to continue with its planning work on the West Link.
But what does the fact that the project has been granted so-called permissibility actually mean? We put this question to Bo Lindgren, the person responsible within the West Link Project for permits and consultation matters.
What does your work involve?
I am responsible for permit matters and consultation in connection with the West Link Project. Consultation means, among other things, maintaining a dialogue with those individuals and bodies who are in various ways involved and affected by the project. As far as permits are concerned, the focus is at present on work relating to the conditions governing permissibility of the West Link Project.
The West Link was recently examined for permissibility and approved by the Government. What does this in fact mean?
In a railway survey, alternative proposals were analysed and tested for increasing the capacity of Gothenburg Central Station, and in 2007 it was decided that the West Link – with its three new stations Gothenburg Central, Haga and Korsvägen – was the solution we should continue to focus on. Since projects of this type and scale require permissibility from the Government, during the period 2011-2012 work was carried out on the preparation of an application for examination of the West Link Project in accordance with the Environmental Code.
During the course of the examination, we reviewed and examined every conceivable question on the project which the Government could possibly ask. Most of the government offices, authorities and local authorities concerned, etc. were invited to express their opinions, and certain arguments in favour of the West Link, its impact and its potential were finely tuned. The application that was submitted to the Government in November 2012 was approved in June 2014 without the slightest request for supplementary information from the Ministry of the Environment. This is unique, and indicates that we had been clear and had made a comprehensive examination of the type of questions that tend to be associated with this type of major project.
What does the approval mean as far as the West Link Project is concerned?
First of all, bearing in mind the fact that we received no requests for supplementation it confirms to us that we are working in the right way and with the right questions. The approval supports the fact that we are moving in the right direction. Furthermore, we had in our application to the Government expressed three conditions pending implementation of the West Link Project. With the approval, the Government added three more conditions. We now have to develop a plan that studies the conditions and clearly shows how we are to work on and fulfil them. The six conditions involve a limited impact on the cultural environment and energy use, the management of excavated rock and soil, a minimised risk of flooding, measures to prevent the pollution of surface and ground waters, and a safety plan for the West Link Project.
What is the next stage?
The railway plan review. This means that the design proposal we have been working and holding consultations on over the past three years will now be exhibited for review for two or three months starting in December this year. It will once again incorporate an extensive referral to everyone we have consulted with and to all interested parties and stakeholders. The views expressed will be refined and the railway plan finely tuned in preparation for final adoption. It can then be appealed against to the government, which will in such case decide whether it can be granted legal force.