Christian Henriksen, Head of Danish Plan Approval
With orderliness in the driver’s seat when preparing for construction
When we build the longest immersed tunnel in the world and create a completely new region for the benefit of millions of people, we do it in a decent manner. And make sure that everyone is heard. That is my ideal. No one must be able to put a finger on the project, when it is finished.
I am responsible for the Danish work on getting the approvals from the authorities and make the way for the physical construction. Popularly said, my division is the icebreaker of the project – we are one meter in front and scrape all the problems aside before the actual construction comes rumbling.
In this phase of the project, I am one of those who are most in Rødbyhavn. I use a lot of time talking with the authorities and the neighbours down there. We hold neighbour and landowner meetings, inform about the plans and take the dialogue with them. This is an important part of the work to launch the project in a decent manner.
But of course, it is very complex. We construct the longest immersed tunnel in the world and create a completely new region, which will contribute to the development of society for many generations to come. That influences a lot of people during and after the construction work – and some would prefer that we would leave things as they are. Therefore, dialogue is so important – everyone should feel that they are heard, and this must simply be done properly. This also means that the Femern Tunnel is one of the best prepared infrastructure project ever in Europe. There must be nothing to put a finger on.
I think it is very inspiring to be part of such a huge and comprehensive project. Everything is filled with records. But it is really also awesome to dig into the material and get an insight into the technical solutions. I can clearly remember the first time, the technical construction of the tunnel was described to me. How 89 tunnel elements are constructed on land – each weighing more than 70,000 tons. And then they are towed out to sea and with centimetre precision submerged to the sea bottom and assembled with hydraulic technic, tunnel element by tunnel element. That is fascinating.
Personally, I have been very taken by the project. I almost feel it to be unavoidable that I should end up at the Femern construction and be part of carrying on Denmark’s long tradition of connecting countries and islands by bridges and tunnels. I grew up in a small village outside Slagelse, where I daily on my bike on my way to school passed a range of hills with a view to the Great Belt. Day by day I could follow the construction of the Great Belt Bridge. That is huge, I thought. And if ever such a huge infrastructure project will come again, I will be part of it.
Now, the Femern Tunnel has almost filled half of my working life. I have been part of the project since 2009, and I am deeply thankful to be part of it – and when we soon really start to construct, I will also participate.
Dialogue is so important – everyone should feel that they are heard, and this must simply be done properly. This also means that the Femern Tunnel is one of the best prepared infrastructure project ever in Europe. There must be nothing to put a finger on.