Archive for Transport
At the EESC Public Hearing 7th of February, Croatian MEP Tonino Picula mentioned that the islands of Europe, if grouped together, would rank as Europe’s ninth nation. I double-checked him, making a table based on Wikipedia, from which I excluded islands that are nations (Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) but included all the remaining 2.136 ones, summing up their areas and their populations.
The result is a complex, widespread, divided, illusive island nation with an area of 454,753 km2 and with 18,889,077 inhabitants. Were it a nation, it would population-wise place itself after Romania but before Kazakstan. Counting by area, it would rank as the 4th nation of Europe, just after Norway. Assuming humans are more important than land, the islands of Europe grouped together would rank as the number 11 among the 50 sovereign states of Europe. Were it a nation, it might be called ISLANDIA.
Is this 11th nation of Europe different from the other 28 nations of Europe? Yes: it has some very valuable assets: (1) shores, that attract hundreds of millions of tourists every year; (2) seas, that contain tides, waves, oil, gas, fish, motorways of the seas as well as more ordinary waterways; (3) unrivalled natural and cultural heritages.
This 11th imaginary nation also has an invisible obstacle surrounding it: remoteness – a permanent handicap causing extra costs for its small-scale societies, enterprises and inhabitants. There are 671 ro-pax ferries connecting the islands with the mainland. On the one thousand smaller islands, 38% of the total energy spent is used for sea transports, larger islands somewhat less. To reengineer these sea transport systems would be an economical, ecological and social revolution.
The event is organized by European island authorities and actors and builds on the outcomes of the 1st Smart Islands Forum hosted by on 21-22 June in Athens, Greece. For more information on the Forum, see http://www.dafni.net.gr/en/archives/250616.htm
Key objective of the event is to present the Smart Islands Initiative, currently supported by 70 island authorities from 13 countries across Europe. Further, during the event representatives from island local and regional authorities will sign the Smart Islands Declaration.
Overall the event will engage EU policy-makers and representatives from local and regional authorities, research institutions, the private sector and civil society on a discussion about islands’ potential to drive Europe’s transition into a low-carbon, sustainable and inclusive economy.
In Finland, the government is keen to promote digital business and new business models. To this end, free traffic service in the archipelago is said to prevent commercial producers of transportation services to gain entry into the market and impairs the possibility of developing a free traffic service market in the area, said the Finnish Ministry of Communication in a memorandum yesterday.
This is causing much agitation among the islanders in Finland.
The draft regulation proposes that a reasonable fee should be charged for traffic and transport services that government partly subsidies. There would be no exceptions for the residents of these islands.
Finnish newspaper Åbo Underättelser (covering the Turku area embracing the largest archipelago of Finland) says this is a severe discrimination of the 500 residents: The government has no idea what it is doing. They use the islanders as guinea pigs. This is not only wrong, it is a direct affront to our archipelago, one of the most vulnerable areas in the nation right now. Toll service boats is the government’s way of saying that it is too expensive to serve people living in uncomfortable places in the country.
As ESIN board member Pia Prost stated in her recent article in Skärgård magazine, there are all in all 4.300 residents on about 250 islands without fixed links in Finland’s archipelagoes, out of totally 22.000 islands.
The editorial titled “An insult to the archipelago”can be read here (in Swedish) http://www.abounderrattelser.fi/news/2016/11/en-skymf-mot-skargarden.html
As a reaction to these changes in the existing ferry fares system, ESIN chairman has written a “Letter of Concern” to Finnish Minister of Communication Anne Berner (attached).
Isle of Man looks at introducing self-driving cars. Writes Matt McFarland in the Washington Post:
‘For some, a small island — far from the lumbering bureaucracies and swarming cities of large nations — would be an obvious launching point for the first large-scale public trials of fully autonomous vehicles.
‘“Things can be tried on an island that may not be practical in a city,” said David Alexander, an analyst at Navigant Research. “On the mainland there will always be someone who wants to go beyond the range of the trial and will then proclaim how useless autonomous cars are.”’