Huge financial deal for Tallinn tunnel project
Businessman Peter Vesterbacka has secured a memorandum of understanding for a huge €15 billion financial deal to fund a proposed tunnel linking Helsinki Airport and Tallinn Airport with a high speed rail connection. The money covers the full estimated costs of the construction project including infrastructure such as trains, and comes from Chinese investment company Touchstone Capital Partners. Vesterbacka tells News Now Finland the deal has been two and a half years in the making. One third of the new money comes to Vesterbacka’s Finest Bay Area Development Oy company as private equity investment, and two thirds comes as debt financing. The latest announcement comes in addition to a €100 million investment from a Middle Eastern company previously announced last December. Details of the Chinese investment will be worked out over the next six months, with Vesterbacka still planning to open the 100km tunnel in December 2024.
Report: dumping snow in the sea might become illegal
The Ministry of Environment will begin a study to look at the impact of dumping snow into the sea. In a report by Keskisuomalainen newspaper this morning, Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre) says that the ultimate goal would be to completely prohibit the common winter practice of tipping snow into the sea when it’s been cleared from city roads. A similar ban is already in place in Sweden. One reason to stop it is because snow that gets cleared from roads is usually contaminated with grit, salt or other chemicals and ends up polluting the water. Finland’s current environmental protection laws do not prohibit the practice of dumping cleared snow into the sea.
Justice Minister: returning ISIS fighters not welcome
Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen (NCP) says that Finland doesn’t want ISIS fighters to return to the country – and that includes women who went to Syria or Iraq to join the organisation or marry fighters. Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Häkkänen said “I believe there is a broad consensus in this hall, in Finland and probably in Europe that the return of ISIS fighters should be avoided”. He wants to set up a special international court, along the lines of one that was established for war crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, to deal with ISIS fighters from European countries. It’s a plan supported by other Nordic nations. “This is usually the case if there are large areas of conflict from which people flee to several countries” say Häkkänen, who added that the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior have been working on a feasibility plan. His comments come after some international media aired short interviews with a Finnish woman called Sanaa who says she wants to come home. She went to the Middle East to join ISIS, and has fled to a refugee camp from one of their last hold-outs. Finnish officials say they’re not planning to help her get home.
International Women’s Day celebrated
Today is International Women’s Day and although it’s not a public holiday, nor yet an official flag day, expect to see lots of references in shops and in the media. The traditions of International Women’s Day stretch back to the labour movement of the early 20th century in Europe and North America where it was first celebrated in New York in 1909. Just a few years later it had already spread to other countries, and this year the theme of International Women’s Day is gender balance.
Friday morning weather
It’s another very cold, but bright, morning in Lapland with temperatures down as low as -27C in the north east of the country. Further south there’s plenty of snow in the forecast down into Central Finland where the temperatures hover just below freezing. As temperatures climb above zero, expect that precipitation to fall as rain in the Tampere region, and there’s some lingering fog as well in Lappeenranta and the south east. Temperatures get up as high as +4C in Pori at the start of Friday!