Danish parliament approves bridge to Germany

Danish parliament approves bridge to Germany Copenhagen - The Danish parliament Thursday approved a 19- kilometre bridge link to neighbouring Germany across the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the Danish island of Lolland and the German island of Fehmarn.

Parliament voted 104 to 3 in favour of the link. Transport Minister Lars Barfoed said it was a "historic decision that will link the Nordic region, and thereby Denmark, with the rest of the European continent."

Other speakers quickly noted that the Jutland peninsula is part of the European mainland, and that Sweden and Denmark are connected via the Oresund Bridge inaugurated in July 2000.

Pending approval from the German parliament, set to vote on the project before the summer, construction is to begin in 2012.

The first vehicles including trains were expected to be able to use the suspension bridge in 2018. The link will give traffic a clear, straight-line run from Copenhagen to Hamburg and southern Europe, and will also benefit Sweden.

Denmark's government will pay most of the costs, estimated at some 33 billion kroner (6 billion dollars) but hopes to ultimately recoup the credits from a toll similar to current ferry fares.

Critics of the project include environmentalists who fear seabirds and migrating birds will be disturbed by the bridge or collide with it. (dpa)