A new court case apparently to force car companies to pay to use frozen lakes for winter testing could have big implications for everyone else enjoying Nordic ‘right to roam’ rules.
Also, Stelvio Pass – and most of its near neighbours – has finally opened for the summer. The day’s progress on the French fuel shortage. And a quick news roundup on newly open mountain roads, Calais migrants jailed for assault on truck driver, new cross-Belarus road plus, a Brexit reverse at Eurotunnel.
CAR MAKERS ABUSING SWEDEN’S RIGHT TO ROAM
Land owners want to be paid for winter testing grounds.
It may come as a surprise to learn that big money car makers do not pay to use Nordic frozen lakes for winter testing.
They use the lakes under Scandinavia’s default ‘right to roam’ laws which allow free access, even to private land.
But a court case being brought by a forestry company in Arjeplog, northern Sweden – one of the most popular testing grounds – may put paid to this cosy arrangement, and could have implications for many other users.
Environmental lawyer Margareta Svenning tells Radio Sweden this week, ‘In the Swedish tradition we normally say you can walk, ride a horse or ride a bike but as soon as you get in a car and use a motorised vehicle it is a different question. You can use other people’s property but not for motorised activities.’
For instance, one activity often expressly forbidden even under ‘right to roam’ is off-roading.
Aside from any damage that may occur, or other disturbance, the other issue is where companies or individuals make money from open access.
‘It’s about money of course,’ says Svenning. ‘Is it reasonable for a company to benefit from someone else’s property?’
A negative ruling has implications not just for car companies, and the hauliers who transfer cars to and from the testing grounds, but also for all the winter ice driving courses and more prosaic activities such as organised mountain biking, snowmobiles, hiking and canoe touring.
Of all the Nordic countries, Finland has the most liberal right to roam rules with 90 percent of land open to the public.
FRANCE FUEL ‘CRISIS’: fuel shortages continue but there was a lot of evidence yesterday (and more today) to say the situation is not as bad as thought. The French transport minister said there were particular issues in Paris, and Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur in the south (the latest govt update says the situation remains delicate in the Paris region and the West, but see below). This morning Dutch motoring club @ANWBEuropa says remaining hotspots include Lille, Paris, Bordeaux, Brest and Nantes. Brittany Ferries says its 2000 staff in west France have been able to find fuel and that the situation has been improving for the past 48 hours (the Morbihan region, west of Rennes, tweeted yesterday to say most of its filling stations were open). P&O says media reports of shortages don’t match its experience on the ground, plus it now allows 5 litres of fuel in an ‘approved container’. @ThisFrenchLife says today that out of 155 petrol stations in the Dordogne, just one is out of fuel. Ian Martin‘s dad is on the way from Nice to Calais today and has just refuelled for the second time. @TrafficBasher is just back from the French Alps, refuelling for the final time 35 miles south of Calais. He said, ‘Every town/village with a choice of supermarket(s) had fuel somewhere last night from Morzine to Macon’. In another bit of encouraging news, all of France’s oil depots are now back in operation except one. Refineries remain on strike but the govt reportedly holds several months’-worth of reserves. QUICK NEWS ROUNDUP. Col du Petit Saint Bernard and Col di Glandon in the French Alps have both opened today according to @TRAFrhonalp… Two migrants were sent to prison for three months after assaulting a truck driver in Calais reports La Voix Calais… The EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and Development look set to take part in financing for the €315 million upgrade of the M10 highway across southern Belarus reports World Highways. The 520km project from near Brest at the Polish border to Gomel near the Russian border is part of the EU-Russia-China alternative route… Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon tells Reuters his comment last year that the UK leaving the EU would lead to an ‘incredible boost’ in duty free shopping was light hearted. He now says Brexit would have little or no impact on business.