African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Embassy ruling spurs appeal

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Several groups opposed to the relocation of the US Embassy have decided to appeal a city court ruling allowing the move. They claim the case involves “important environmental principles.”

Five groups ranging from the Oslo chapter of Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet) to homeowners associations are arguing that laws were not followed when city officials agreed to rezone a large parcel of open space in Oslo’s Huseby district for embassy use.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that no study was made to determine the consequences of the embassy being built at Huseby.

The US Embassy has been under pressure for years to move from its current site near downtown to a more secure location. After rejecting a series of sites proposed by Norwegian officials, the Americans finally agreed to relocate to the Huseby site northwest of downtown.

That prompted immediate protests from Huseby residents, who objected to the loss of local open space, increased congestion in the area, and the threat of terrorism that accompanies the embassy no matter where it goes.

It’s the loss of open space that the plaintiffs claim is their most pressing concern. Margrethe Geemuyden, who’s led a group aiming to preserve the open space (Aksjon Vern Husebyskogen), claims that if the consequences had been studied, she’s sure local politicians would have reached a different conclusion.

Gjermund Andersen, leader of Oslo’s Friends of the Earth chapter, claims the lack of the report undermines the law requiring it. That means, he claims, that “environmental concerns will be weaker in other cases as well.”

The appeal likely will further delay the embassy’s relocation process. The opposition groups’ legal effort to block the relocation is being financed by the organizations and private donors.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng

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