Longyearbyen took a big step closer toward a new harbor this week as Parliament and local leaders announced 300 million kroner is being sought for the project in the new National Transportation Plan scheduled for release next month.
The amount is $100 million more than the amount in the previous transportation plan 2014-2023. But it is still short of the $400 million kroner the project preferred by officials – a twin-dock floating pier with extensive multiple-industry amenities – is expected to cost.
“The NTP has the Conservative Party, the Progress Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party agreeing to at least 300 million kroner for the new port in Longyearbyen,” Deputy Mayor Eirik Berger wrote in a statement. “This provides a good basis for working out a convenient, flexible and future-oriented port concept in Longyearbyen.”
Furthermore, he noted the members of those parties – which comprise Norway’s Conservative-led ruling majority – said they support building the pier during the early stages of the years the plan is in effect.
Svalbardposten, which first reported the increase, stated local leaders are hoping to get initial funding for the project in the coming year’s budget scheduled for approval in October, one month after the parliamentary election. The twin-dock floating pier officials have their eye on is the recommended option in a report issued last year by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, which evaluated a total of 10 alternatives.
The floating pier would be more stable during extreme conditions and be able to handle larger ships than the current harbor. There would be one dock designed for fishing industry vessels, and dock for tourism and research vessels. In addition, there would also be a terminal with 1,000 square meters of interior space that could be used for retail, storage and scientific purposes.
“Which option we land on is not carved in stone, and it may be we need to look at financial solutions to ensure that we get a port facility with adequate capacity and can be scaled up to include, among other things, fishing activities when the time is ripe for it,” Berger told Svalbardposten.
The NCA’s recommendation is based on forecasts showing tourism, research and education activities will likely increase sharply in the future, according to a statement by the agency. The report estimates 961 vessels carrying 61,900 people will visit Longyearbyen in 2016, 1,648 vessels carrying 121,700 people will visit in 2040 and 2,317 vessels carrying 176,300 people will visit in 2060.