Friday, May 29, 2009

New American Embassy in Oslo Clears Legal Hurdle

We've got a post today from Colin about the ongoing story of the proposed move for the American Embassy in Oslo.

In a decision handed down Friday the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that an Oslo municipal development committee had not acted improperly when in 2005 it gave its approval to move the American Embassy from the capital’s center to the less-crowded Huseby area. The court’s ruling effectively ends the legal challenge brought against the move by a local citizen’s group Vern Husebyskogen (Protect Huseby Forest) and should clear the way for further planning.

The American embassy has been located in the heart of downtown Oslo since 1959. After 9/11 increasing concerns, shared by Embassy staff and Oslo citizens, jump-started the search for a new location. Plans were eventually drawn up to move the building to Huseby, a wooded neighborhood a few kilometers outside of the city center. Local residents, concerned that the development and increased traffic would harm their neighborhood, sued the Norwegian government and the Oslo local government, charging that approval had been given without making an appropriate impact study. The Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that no such impact study was legally necessary and moreover that the citizen’s group had had its day in court.

American Ambassador Benson K. Whitney told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that “Building a new Embassy is the right step for our national relationship, for Oslo’s citizens and for the American and Norwegian employees of the Embassy. We are ready to continue our dialog and look forward to being good neighbors.” Margrethe Geelmuyden, head of Vern Husebyskogen, was disappointed by the court’s ruling but said the group would respect it.

The ruling doesn’t mean that construction will begin right away. Next, concerns about the compound’s planned architecture have to be addressed. You can read the Embassy’s statement about the ruling here, and read about some of the eco-friendly features of the planned building here.

1 comment:

caroll said...
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