State appeals ABBA star’s island dream

The ongoing dispute has now returned to Sweden’s Environmental Court of Appeal who will decide the fate of Ulvaeus’ proposal to build a house and studio on Furillen, an island off Gotland.

In March, Ulvaeus was given permission from Gotland’s county administrative board to build in a protected area.

The decision granted an exemption from planning regulations designed to keep Sweden’s beaches and coastal areas open to the general public.

Special dispensation was given by Gotland county governor Marianne Samuelsson who was forced to step down from her post in the summer in a separate incident over building permission.

Taped recordings were leaked of her comments giving a local businessman preferential treatment for plans to extend his property in a protected beachside area.

A first appeal by The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) was thrown out when the court agreed with the country administrative board’s decision, giving Ulvaeus approval to proceed with his plans.

A second appeal contests that decision and states that coastal protection regulations have been contradicted and that there is no reason for the dispensation already granted.

The Enivronmental Court may now consider the case for a final time.

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Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.

Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.

A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.