COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - German authorities on Friday gave their approval to an $8 billion (6.30 billion pounds) rail and road tunnel linking Denmark and Germany, despite environmental objections.
The 19 km (11.8 mile) Fehmarnbelt link, connecting the Danish island of Lolland to the island of Fehmarn on the German side, was due to be completed in 2024, but has been delayed by environmental protests in Germany.
Fehmarn is already connected by road to the German mainland, and the new link will greatly speed up road and rail connections from the German cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover to the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and the Swedish city of Malmo.
The project, priced at 52.6 billion Danish crowns ($8.1 billion), comprises a four-lane motorway and a two-track railway. It is part-funded by the European Union.
The company behind the project, Femern A/S, has 14 days to review the approval from the transport ministry of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein before it is signed.
"This is the result of several years of cooperation between the parties involved in Denmark and Germany," Claus Dynesen, project director at Femern A/S, said in a statement.
The application was first submitted in 2013 and has been through two rounds of public consultation in Germany. Femern A/S said the decision could be appealed in the German Federal Administrative Court.
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)