A citizens' initiative to retain the small Malmi airport in Helsinki that gathered more than 56,000 signatories was handed in to Parliament on Wednesday. The minimum number of signatures needed for an initiative to be considered by Parliament is 50,000.
In addition, the initiative proposes that the central area of the airport be transferred to the government in exchange for money or land.
"Now things can be decided on a national level," says Timo Hyvönen who heads the association behind the initiative. "The airport is fundamentally a national, not a Helsinki issue."
A separate proposal to make the Malmi airport a protected site is also in the works. The airport is on the list of European cultural sites under threat.
The City of Helsinki owns the land on which the airport stands. The municipality decides on land use in its district, which is central to municipal autonomy. The city council adopted a plan in October that reserves the land area for housing.
The government, too, has stated that the Malmi airport is a housing development location.
"The legislation we're proposing will support common goals and diverse development, which will also make it possible to make Malmi airport a hub for aviation and business as well as housing," Hyvönen says. "There is room on the outskirts for apartment buildings, too."
The initiative – nicknamed "Lex Malmi" – will now be discussed in Parliament and go through the various decision-making stages. If needed, a statement from the Constitutional Law Committee.
Separate legislation has almost never been used to regulate use of individual parcels of land in Finland. Some anomalies include the founding of nature reserves and national parks, which are established by law.