Copenhagen is planning to build an island

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, has begun the planning to build an entire new island, Lynetteholmen in the very centre of the city. The island is an attempt to combat floods as a result of climate change as well as combatting rising housing prices.

By: Rasmus Fregerslev and Yunjung Shim

Concept art of Lynetteholmen. Source: Ministry for Transportation, Trafic and Construction

In the very centre of the capital, close to famous landmarks such as the little mermaid, Nyhavn and the Copenhagen Opera, Copenhagen municipality is planning to build a new island. In 2018 the local government approved of the plan, and the proposal was then sent to the national ministry. Later that year, the government and Copenhagen municipality agreed to make the initial surveys of the consequences of building the island. In January this year, the first public hearings ended.

According to the government plan the project will be finished in 2070 and it will cost around 20 billion danish kroner (2.7 billion €). The establishing of Lynetteholmen is planned to begin in 2035. The new suburb will be just short of 3 km2 in size, the size of roughly 400 soccer fields.

In the recent decades, Copenhagen has seen an increase in floods in the city, most notably the flood in 2011. The sea level in Oresund, the sound between Denman and Sweden, is expected to rise about 50 centimetres before 2100.

The island is planned to be a key part of securing the capital against future flooding, as well as providing more housing in Copenhagen.

An (in)convenient amount of dirt

The city has a large amount of dirt available from construction projects in the city. Dirt which can be used for the project. Currently left-over dirt from construction in the city, is stored in Nordhavn, a suburb of Copenhagen, but the storing space is about to run according to Copenhagen Municipality. Dirt which otherwise would need to be removed in another way. The left-over dirt is mainly created from other building- and maintenance projects in the city, especially when constructing underground parking lots as well as the expansion of the metro system.

According to the plan, 2.6 million tonnes of dirt would need to be added every year, adding up to 80 million tonnes until 2070. This means that 270 trucks will drive through the suburb Christianshavn every day in the 50-year period the project is ongoing.

Gorm Anker Gunnarsen, Enhedslisten. Photo by Yunjung Shim

Political agreement across the board

The initial agreement in the Copenhagen municipality council was an agreement between 7 different parties, spanning the entire political spectrum. Only Enhedslisten (eng: Red-Green Alliance) and Alternativet (eng: The Alternative) did not approve of the plan.

The representative of Enhedslisten in Copenhagen Municipality, Gorm Anker Gunnarsen does not see a need to build the islands. “270 trucks will drive through here every day. This means lots of dust, lots of noise, lots of pollution in the middle of the city,” he says.

Despite the broad political agreement, he believes that the project can be brought to a halt. Later this year in November, there are local municipal elections in Copenhagen, and Gorm Anker Gunnarsen does not predict that it will go well for the current social democratic mayor.

“I think he is scared of the elections, because they (red: the social democrats) has made a lot of projects, that has infuriated people,” he says. “Projects that has damaged the environment and the quality of life. Our party might be able to challenge their position.”

According to the plan, the first preparations for the construction will begin in the second half of 2021. The agreement states that the construction should be as climate neutral as possible.