State to transfer Salpa Line structures to landowners
The Ministry of Finance has taken the decision to transfer the structures of the Salpa Line fortification chain to the respective landowners and will cancel the restrictions on the right of use of these sites. On 23 April, the Ministry held an information briefing about the transfer of the Salpa Line structures at the Salpa Line Museum in Miehikkälä. The opening words at the event were delivered by Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen, who is the minister responsible for Senate Properties.
Transferring the structures to the landowners will give the landowners authority over the sites and the same opportunities to develop the sites for tourism, leisure or other purposes. The ownership of the land along the Salpa Line was returned to the landowners during the 1960s and 1970s.
A report on the Salpa Line has been produced by Senate Properties, in which all the real estate and sites where the right of use is restricted have been identified in each municipality. The report served as background information for the decision to cancel the restrictions. It also represents a continuation of the Finnish Heritage Agency’s extensive inventory work on the Salpa Line carried out in 2009–2012.
Restricting rights of use means that the state is entitled to retain the fortifications and underground chambers and to use them for storage purposes, among other things. The Salpa Line today no longer has the kind of defence-related purpose that would require the use of individual sites to be restricted.
“Instead of being used for defence needs, the Salpa Line’s future lies in its historical value and in its use for tourism or leisure purposes. The restrictions on use have acted as obstacles or slowed the progress with such projects,” says Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen.
Municipalities have already been engaging actively with travel and tourism companies and organisations. Good examples of this include the Salpa Line Museum, the Bunker Museum in Virolahti and the 55-kilometre Salpa Trail.
The Salpa Line is one of Finland’s Cultural Heritage Sites of National Significance, as defined by the Finnish Heritage Agency. The Finnish Heritage Agency will continue to have a key role in providing advice and guidance for any restoration projects carried out at Salpa Line sites.
The state has been responsible for securing those sites at which there have been restrictions on the right of use, for instance by providing signage and protection, and by closing off high-risk sites.
In May, the Ministry of Finance will submit an application for cancellation of the restrictions on right of use to the National Land Survey of Finland. On 23 April, the Ministry will send out a letter to all landowners on whose land there are sites that have restrictions on the right of use. The total number of such landowners is approximately 340. The National Land Survey will contact these landowners about cadastral survey services.
Pauliina Pekonen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 2955 30081, pauliina.pekonen(at)vm.fi
Tuomas Vanhanen, Special Adviser to Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen, tel. +358 295 530216, tuomas.vanhanen(at)vm.fi
In the 1940s the state purchased and expropriated land from landowners along the Salpa Line for defence use. The Salpa Line was built in 1941–1944, but it was never involved in military action. About 35,000 men were involved in the construction, and provisions for these men were supplied by some 2,000 members of the women's auxiliary service. The land was returned to the landowners during the 1960s and 1970s as the Salpa Line had become militarily redundant when Finland transferred to a territorial defence system. At the same time, restrictions on the right of use were imposed on the concrete fortifications and stone obstacles. In all, approximately 400 real estate entries in the cadastral register are marked as being subject to a restriction on their right of use. These restrictions are concentrated particularly in the area extending from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Kivijärvi. Until 2003, the Salpa Line fortifications were under the control and responsibility of the Finnish Defence Forces. In 2003, these duties were transferred to the Ministry of Finance. Management of the fortifications is the responsibility of Senate Properties, which was also responsible for preparation of the report on the Salpa Line.