Expropriation of land for infrastructure projects like Rail Baltic to be made easier
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications wants to change the Immovables Expropriation Act to make it possible to expropriate land of those landowners whose plots are on the Rail Baltic route faster and less expensively than before.
The ministry is seeking opinions on a bill that would allow the state to take over the plots in question immediately after the expropriation decision has been made. At present, a land plot can only be taken over after the expropriation fee has been paid and possible legal disputes settled, but in the future this would no longer be a requirement.
According to the ministry, the reasoning behind the amendment is that as a result of legal disputes, several proceedings have dragged on for years, which interferes with important infrastructure projects like Rail Baltic, as well as making applying for funding from the European Union more difficult.
The ministry describes the possible impact of the amendment on the affected households as “insignificant”, and states that there is no need to carry out an analysis on the impact of the amendment. If a landowner finds that the decision to expropriate their land is unlawful and decides to contest it in court, it is still possible to stop the expropriation by enforcing legal protection, the ministry argues.
The ministry would also like to start paying a so-called motivational fee, which exceeds the normal value of land, to the landowners that consent to selling their land plot to the state without expropriation, the cover letter of the bill states.
Land is expropriated extremely rarely in Estonia. Between 2005 and 2015, the government made 25 expropriation decisions that affected 51 plots, 47 of which were expropriated partially and four in full, mainly for building public roads and railways.
There is also the possibility of reallotment offered by the state, as this helps to prevent a situation where one plot is divided into parts if a project like Rail Baltic would cut straight through a single plot.