The past is past

Naturvernforbundet wants to stop the largest encroachment on nature in Norway’s history.

Hordfast bruAdele Jaunn

Over large areas of Norway, nature is being paved over with new motorways, and many more are being planned. Naturvernforbundet warns that this could be the largest intrusion on nature in Norway’s history. At a debate and hearing meeting, Gabriel Fliflet, the leader of Naturvernforbundet Hordaland warned of this: “These plans for large numbers of new motorways are a relic of the past’s belief in unconstrained growth of mass automobile culture. We should instead take care of the roads we have. Neglect of maintenance on the county roads in Hordaland is widespread. Let us improve our many dangerous roads, give them shoulders that don’t collapse, give those that need a yellow center marking, add walkways and bicycle lanes; let us upgrade roads to have three lanes where it is necessary.”

At the hearing, Storting candidates from the political parties were invited to comment on if they support us in the fight for nature, and against the plans for new motorways in our county.

“Many politicians are closing their eyes. They don’t want to hear, don’t want to know, and don’t want to see. Yes, some politicians seem to be open to almost any possibility to be able to build a new motorway.”

“They are sacrificing the topsoil, dividing towns in half, and destroying nature reserves. People around the country are starting to see with their own eyes what it means to have a 110-kilometer motorway built through the town. But they often understand this too late,” said Gabriel Fliflet, who led Naturvernforbundet Hordaland in the debate.

Fliflet pointed out that building Hordfast breaks with the goes against agreed goals.

“Hordfast has been a heated topic. That’s something that we in Naturvernforbundet will gladly take our share of the credit for. We have fought arm over limb against this project. Even the initial concept and motivation behind Hordfast is a relic from a bygone time: a plan to get more people to travel even further, to transfer traffic from ships to roads to multiply it by a factor of five. One million new cars within the Bergen area just the first year after opening! And this is being planned at the same time that Norway is enforcing strict regulations on the larger cities about zero growth in the private vehicle traffic – otherwise they won’t receive resources for public transit, cyclists, and pedestrians. To force new motorways toward Bergen will make it impossible to achieve the zero growth target,” said Fliflet.

The debate clearly exposed the political differences between the parties. Not everyone agrees with Naturvernforbundet’s stance on stopping Hordfast. Still, it was encouraging to see that several parties are now considering taking actions to reduce the scale of the project, and to re-evaluate both its size and speed.

“That both Senterpartiet and Arbeiderpartiet are now open to considering a re-evaluation of the scale of this massive project is very encouraging. The SV, Rødt, and MDG parties have previously demanded that this project should be abandoned. Even the larger parties that support motorways are seemingly beginning to realise that Hordfast is too large, expensive, and demanding,” says Fliflet.