Tiny German island rejects expansion

AP News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2011 5:38 PM
Tiny German island rejects expansion

The roughly 1,200 residents of Germany's northernmost island rejected a plan to expand its land mass in an effort to accommodate more tourists.

Preliminary results released after a referendum Sunday showed that 57 percent of Helgolanders rejected the move, ARD public broadcaster reported, deciding instead to preserve their status as a unique North Sea refuge.

The euro18-million ($25.5 million) project to artificially restore a sandbar washed away in 1720 linking the island of Helgoland to a smaller neighboring island, Duene, that hosts an airport and a campground was disputed for months ahead of the vote.

The idea was to gain about 20 percent more land mass for the islands, located some 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of the German coast, and create beaches and hotel space to generate more tourism and reverse a population decline.

Many of the 350,000 visitors who flock to Helgoland each year say it is the lack of organized tourism that make the island an attractive destination. They come for the peace and solitude offered by its remoteness.

The island was a British possession in the 1800s and a site of a Nazi submarine bunker.