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DENMARK

Obama to ‘shut down’ Öresund Bridge

Even though US president Barack Obama isn't setting foot in Sweden, his planned visit to Copenhagen on Friday is expected to cause headaches for Malmö-area businesses and commuters.

Obama to 'shut down' Öresund Bridge

The Öresund Bridge Consortium announced on Tuesday that the bridge, which carries both rail and road traffic between Malmö and Copenhagen, will be closed during the morning rush hour and at lunchtime on Friday in conjunction with Obama’s visit to the Danish capital.

The decision to shut down the major traffic artery at one of the busiest times of the day confounded Henrik Andersson, a representative for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden (Sydsvenska Industri- och Handelskammaren)

“It will cause a lot of problems,” he told The Local.

“I find it peculiar that they are shutting the bridge down. A lot of people will have to adjust their schedules.”

And representatives of Skånetrafiken, the organization charged with managing public transportation in the area, were also frustrated that they only received word a few days ahead of the expected closure.

“We were….surprised. Let’s put it like that,” said spokesperson Ulrika Mebeius.

“Nobody had informed us or our colleagues at the Swedish Rail Administration.”

Skånetrafiken is now scrambling to come up with alternate arrangements for Swedish travellers who need to make their way to Denmark on Friday morning.

Andersson added that he expected the closing of the bridge to have a negative impact on area businesses.

“There are also going to be problems for many business travellers who will be unable to reach their flights on time,” he said.

Obama is making a quick visit to Copenhagen to lobby the Internal Olympic Committee to choose his adopted home town of Chicago as a host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

During the hours of 7.30am to 8.30am no trains or cars will be allowed across the bridge as the US president is whisked from Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport to the Bella Centre conference facilities where the meetings are taking place.

Traffic across the Öresund Bridge will again be shut down from 11.30am to 12.30pm, as Obama returns to the airport.

However, the Öresund Consortium added that the times are subject to change in accordance with the presidential schedule.

Skånetrafiken is currently working to notify Swedish passengers about the closing of the bridge in hopes of minimizing the impact of the closure.

Information will also be continuously updated via signs, the Öresund Bridge website, as well as through a mobile phone text messaging service

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DENMARK

Swedish politician condemns Denmark’s ‘shit sandwich’ sewage plan

Copenhagen's water utility has been asked to postpone a plan to dump 290,000 cubic meters of untreated raw sewage into the Øresund Strait in the face of outrage from citizens and politicians in both Sweden and Denmark.

Swedish politician condemns Denmark's 'shit sandwich' sewage plan
Swimmers taking part in the Øresund Challenge back in 2011. Photo: Dennis Lehmann/Ritzau Scanpix
After a meeting on Monday afternoon, Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Copenhagen's environmental mayor, said she had asked civil servants to ask Hofor postpone the release until the autumn. 
 
“There has been an opportunity for Hofor to postpone the test work they will be doing until October,” she told state broadcaster DR. “That is why I have asked the administration to demand it.” 
 
Politicians in both Denmark and Sweden were up in arms on Sunday when details of the plan became known, forcing the utility to first postpone the release by 24 hours, and now postpone it further. 
 
Niels Paarup-Petersen, a member of parliament for Sweden's Centre Party, told The Local that the plan was just the latest in a long list of insults Denmark had thrown at its Scandinavian neighbour. 
 
“We’ve been served shit sandwich after shit sandwich over the last couple of years, but we've never been served so much shit in one go as this,” he said.  
 
Jacob Næsager, a city politician with Denmark's Conservative party, said that it was astonishing that the plan had been approved. 
 
 
“Many people want to swim in the Øresund, and I think it is extremely disgusting that people literally have to swim in other people's shit,” he said. 
 
Finn Rudaizky, a city politician for the Danish People's Party on the city's environment committee, called the plan “completely crazy”.
 
After Olsen announced the decision to postpone the plan, Morten Østergaard leader of Denmark's Social Liberal party congratulated those who had spotted it and launched a protest. 
 
“Good God, that was hanging by a thread, but hats off for the action,” he said. “'Shit good', as Niels Paarup from our sister party wrote.” 

Paarup-Petersen told The Local that he recognised that the utility had to empty the sewer to allow construction to go ahead at Svanemølleholmen in Nordhavn.
 
But he said there was no need to dump so much sewage in one go right at the start of the summer swimming season.  
 
 
“They can spread it out over a longer period, they can do it in a better season when people won't be swimming and there might be better currents,” he said. “It would also be possible to plan it a bit better so it will be released over more days.” 
 
He said he planned to work together with the Danish Social Liberal party to put in place greater environmental protections around the Øresund. 
 
“In the long term we have to find solutions, because there are solutions that can mean that the Øresund no longer needs to be a sewer,” he said. 
 
In a memo to the mayor issued on Monday, city civil servants said that they could not withdraw the permit issued to Hofor, as it had been drawn up in accordance with the correct procedures. 
 
Hedeager Olsen said she would now launch ask a team of  external experts in law and the environment to investigate why the city's civil servants believed it was right to authorise the discharge. 
 
“When the administration today concludes in a note that they believe the case management has been correct, and at the same time you hear environmental professors and others say that it is not, it is important to get the case investigated at a fundamental level,” she told DR. 
 
 
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