Tartu Administrative Court has accepted a complaint by Fridays for Future Estonia, an organization of young Estonian climate activists, seeking the annulment of a permit issued to Estonian state-owned energy group Eesti Energia for the construction of a new shale oil plant; however, the court has decided not to satisfy the organization's application or interim injunction, daily Postimees writes.
The court accepted the complaint seeking the annulment of the construction permit issued by the Narva-Jõesuu town government and declared the town respondent in the proceedings, imposing on it an obligation to respond to the complaint within 21 days from receiving the order, Tartu Administrative Court spokesperson Annett Kreitsmann told Postimees.
"The court has also included in the procedure [Eesti Energia subsidiaries] Enefit Energiatootmine AS and Enefit Kaevandused AS as a third party, and the Ministry of the Environment as the administrative body, and imposed an obligation on them to present their position with regard to the complaint within 21 days from receiving the court order," she added.
The court dismissed the appellant's application for interim injunction regarding the construction of the Enefit 280 oil plant as currently not justified.
According to the court, all claims by the appellant regarding negative climate effects and inability to fulfill obligations arising from the Paris Agreement relate to side-effects produced during the functioning of the plant.
The complaint and interim injunction application lack any claims alleging that the construction of the plant produces any negative environmental effects.
Tartu Administrative Court explained in its ruling that if the administrative court proceeding is not concluded by the time the plant is launched, the appellant has the right to lodge a new application for interim injunction and to apply for the suspension of the disputed order.
The nonprofit MTÜ Loodusvõlu, which consists of members of Fridays for Future Estonia, can contest the dismissal of the interim injunction application in circuit court within 15 days.
Eesti Energia, which has been included as a third party in the proceedings through its subsidiaries, said that the company will duly submit its positions as requested.
"As the court said, the town of Narva-Jõesuu is the respondent in the complaint in question," Eesti Energia spokesperson Priit Luts said.
According to Luts, the development of the new oil plant will not increase the overall environmental impact of Eesti Energia's production complex at the village of Auvere. On the contrary, the total effect will be reduced as older electricity production units are planned to be closed due to their combined environmental impact exceeding that of the new oil plant by severalfold.
Kertu Birgit Anton, leader of Fridays for Future Estonia, said last month that the construction permit issued by the town government of Narva-Jõesuu for the establishment of the oil plant precludes international climate and environmental agreements and the effects thereof have not been duly assessed.
The planned oil plant does not enable meeting the commitments made under the Paris Agreement and are incompatible with sustainable development goals as well as the European Union's objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The Narva-Jõesuu town government with its March 27 order issued a permit for the construction of the Enefit 280 oil plant in the village of Auvere.
On the same day, the Estonian government authorized Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) to increase Eesti Energia's equity by €125 million to enable the state-owned energy company to establish the new oil plant.
The new plant, with a capacity of 268,000 tons of liquid fuels per year, is to be completed by 2024 and is planned to achieve maximum capacity a year later.
The planned cost of the investment is €286 million.
The new oil plant would raise Estonia's annual oil output to over 700,000 tons, which considering 2019 average market prices translates into a sales revenue of approximately €250 million.
According to Eesti Energia, the company's strategic developments, including the construction of the new oil plant, are consistent with the climate goals.
Editor: Aili Vahtla