Europe’s highest sea cliff amongst beauty spots which could become Norway’s newest national parks

Norway's Hornelen, Summørsalpane, Masfjordfjella Øystesefjella could become national parks if a proposal to the Norwegian Environment Agency becomes a reality.

Europe’s highest sea cliff amongst beauty spots which could become Norway’s newest national parks
Photo by Torbjorn Sandbakk on Unsplash

The proposal follows a 2016 report to the Norwegian parliament on biodiversity and will be considered by the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

“In order for us to propose new national parks, there must be certain acceptance in the municipalities that are affected. Good dialogue with the municipalities is also absolutely crucial for any further processes,” Norwegian Environment Agency director, Ellen Hambro told NRK.

A number of proposals in the past have previously been rejected due to a lack of local support, but several municipal officials have already publicly backed the new plan.

“It’s a day of joy. It is fantastic that the landscape values and outdoor values are in these mountain areas are appreciated;” Helene Ødven from The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) told state broadcaster NRK.

“I got butterflies when I found out, we have been working on this for almost 40 years,” she said.

One of the candidates is Europe’s highest sea cliff, at 860 meters, Hornelen.

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“As long as it is in accordance with what everything has been established by the industry, we would very much like to have it turned into a national park” said Anne Kristin Førde, mayor of the Bremanger municipality where Hornelen is.

National parks in Norway are protected, making it illegal to alter the landscape if it is not in the spirit of conservation. For example,  new roads and cabins may not be built, nor is it permitted to regulate watercourses.

There are currently 47 national parks in Norway.

READ MORE: ‘Out of this world’: Norwegian beach named ‘best in Europe’ 

“I am glad that the environmental authorities see the value of this area of untouched nature. This is an area that is important to take care of for the generations that come after us,” Sara Hamre Sekkingstad, mayor of Alver municipality, location of Masfjordfjella, told NRK.

If Masfjordfjella gets the protected status of a national park the mayor hopes it will prevent wind power being developed in the area.

“We are clearly against wind power in our mountain area, and we will remain so,” she said.

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany