Why some northerners will welcome Sweden’s relaxed shoreline protection rules

The sun is reflected in the Borgsjoen lake as it sets behind the mountains in Erikslund, central Sweden on July 5, 2014. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
The rules for shoreland protection will be eased in the more scarcely populated parts of Sweden, according to the four-party agreement that helped bring in Sweden’s new government.

One of the municipalities where this will mean a lot is Arjeplog in Norrbotten county, where Britta Flinkfeldt is the mayor.

“We have 8,700 lakes, and more than 9,000 islands. It is almost impossible to build a house anywhere in the municipality, without getting close to the shore,” she tells Radio Sweden.

Arjeplog is the most scarcely populated municipality in Sweden. With the size of half of Belgium, it only houses 2,900 people – or 0.22 human beings per square kilometre. For the municipality to survive and prosper, it is important to get more people to move to there, says Britta Flinkfeldt.

“If you want to attract new people and if you want them to find it attractive to come and live in our municipality, we have to have this tool also,” she says.

The current rules ban the building of houses within 100 metres from a waterline. Exceptions can be made, but it involves an administrative process that can be cumbersome, for small municipalities in particular, says Flinkfeldt.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit and Ottawa reach agreement in principle on marine conservation area in Northwest Passage, Radio Canada International

Finland: First ever winter sighting of blue-green algae in Gulf of Finland, Yle News

Norway: Urgent action needed to protect Arctic Ocean, WWF says, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Far East ministry to get powers over Arctic policy, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Many towns in Sweden seek funds to clean up polluted sites, Radio Sweden

United States: Why are people moving away from Alaska?, Alaska Public Media

Ulla Engberg, Radio Sweden

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