Opposition Urges Land-based Pipeline

Sweden’s opposition parties are demanding a planned gas pipline between Russia and Germany, be constructed over land, rather than running under the ecologically sensitive waters of the Baltic Sea.

The Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party are all pressing the Swedish government to oppose plans put foward by the Russian-led consortium behind US$ 7 billion project.

Mona Sahlin, party leader for the Social Democrats, has urged the government to demand the pipeline be built overland, and has called on the consortium, Nordstream, to study alternative land-based routes for the pipeline.

Nordstream is seeking Sweden’s approval for the route as it runs through Swedish waters, and has ruled out an overland route via Poland.

Sweden’s Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren responded to the opposition’s calls by stressing that international agreements and Swedish law would guide government suggestions on the path of the pipeline, as and when a formal proposal and an environmental impact report was presented to his department.

Carlgren underlined it was not up to Sweden alone to decide the route of the pipeline, and criticised the opposition for undermining Sweden’s ability to influence discussions on the project.

He repeated the government’s position that it had no wish to create unnecessary environmental risks for the Baltic’s fragile ecosystem.

The 1,200 km pipeline has divided countries around the Baltic, some of which have raised concerns over the environmental impact of running the pipeline along the seabed.

Concerns have also been raised that the project could disturb unexploded ordanance and chemical and biological weapons dumped in the Baltic after the Second World War.

The sea is one of the world’s most enclosed, greatly intensifying the impact of pollution on marine life.

Nordstream has repeatedly defended its plans, saying a pipeline between Russia and Germany is the best route both technically, environmentally and economically.