Christian Henriksen, Head of Danish Plan Approval
Orderliness in the driver’s seat when preparing for construction
When building the longest immersed tunnel in the world and creating a completely new region for the benefit of millions of people, we’ll do it properly and fairly. We’ll make sure that everyone has a say. That’s my ideal. No one must be able to find fault with the project when it’s finished.
I’m responsible for the Danish aspect of gaining approval from the authorities and paving the way for the physical construction. It’s fair to say that my department is what can be described as the project’s icebreaker – we’re always one metre in front, ploughing all problems aside to allow actual construction to follow through.
I am quite frequently in Rødbyhavn, talking with the authorities and the local population. We hold community and landowner meetings, keeping everyone informed about the plans – talking and listening. This is an important part of the work to allow us to execute the project in the proper way.
Naturally, it’s highly complex. We’re building the longest immersed tunnel in the world and creating a completely new region, one which will contribute to the development of society for many generations to come. That will affect a lot of people during and after the construction work – and some would rather that we leave things as they are. This is why communication is so important – everyone should feel that they’re heard, and this has to be done properly. It also means that the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel is one of the best prepared infrastructure projects ever in Europe. We can allow no matter to be overlooked.
I think it’s very inspiring to be part of such a huge and comprehensive project. Every aspect is record breaking. But it’s also amazing to dig into the material and get an insight into the technical solutions. I remember clearly the first time that the technical construction of the tunnel was described to me. How 89 tunnel elements would be constructed on land – each weighing more than 70,000 tonnes. How they would be towed out to sea and, with fine precision and hydraulics, lowered down to and below the seabed and then joined together element by element. That’s fascinating.
Personally, I’ve become very caught up in the project. I almost feel that I was destined to end up on the Fehmarnbelt project 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 cycling to school I would cross a ridge with a view of the Great Belt. Day by day I could follow the construction of the Great Belt Bridge. “That’s huge,” I thought. “And if ever such a huge infrastructure project comes along again, I want to be part of it.”
The Fehmarnbelt Tunnel has occupied nearly half of my working life. I’ve been part of the project since 2009, and I’m deeply thankful for that. Now, as construction is about to gain momentum, I am there too.
COMMUNICATION IS SO IMPORTANT – EVERYONE SHOULD FEEL THAT THEY’RE HEARD, AND THIS MUST BE DONE PROPERLY. IT ALSO MEANS THAT THE FEHMARNBELT TUNNEL IS ONE OF THE BEST PREPARED INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS EVER IN EUROPE. WE CAN ALLOW NO MATTER TO BE OVERLOOKED.