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Former military islands off Helsinki could conceivably be zoned for residential use
A new working group is seeking ways to pay for repairs of the islands of Vallisaari and Kuivasaari
When it comes to the future use of the islands off the coast of Helsinki, now being released by the Finnish Defence Forces, things to be considered include the cultural history value of the islands, the natural diversity of wildlife there, as well as the small matter of money - or more pertinently the lack of it.
Last week, the Ministry of Finance finally set up a working group to examine options for using the islands of Vallisaari, Kuninkaansaari, and Kuivasaari now that the Defence Forces no longer have any need for fixed coastal artillery.
The islands have been closed for a long time, and their wildlife has remained exceptionally fine.
On the other hand, there may still be explosives, dangerous vertical shafts, and caverns on the islands, which is why it is not yet safe to open them up to the public.
Neither the state nor the City of Helsinki are likely to provide funding for repairs. For this reason, all avenues to raising the required funds have been opened up, says chair of the working group Helena Tarkka, a high-ranking civil servant from the Finance Ministry.
One of the options to be considered is setting up permanent housing on the islands ”or some other kind of urban construction”, according to the working group’s task description.
The City of Helsinki exercises decision-making powers on the zoning of the islands.
The working group includes representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Education, Defence, and the Environment, as well as from the National Board of Antiquities, the Defence Forces, Metsähallitus (a state enterprise that administers more than 12 million hectares of state-owned land and water areas), and from Senate Properties, an enterprise operating under the Ministry of Finance, mainly providing property services to customers in the government.
The working group is expected to draw up a report on the future use of the islands by the end of the current year.