The Jõelähtme Municipality government wants to designate the area surrounding the village of Ruu as a protected area, while the state maintains the area holds valuable limestone deposits it wants to access.
Jõelähtme Municipality Mayor Andrus Umboja said that experts have found the village of Ruu to be a place of natural significance where no mines should be allowed. "The Ruu dunes have been described as the only place in Harju County where dunes of the Baltic Sea's paleontological predecessor can be seen that are some 8,000 years old. That is what we are seeking to protect in the woods, with mining one of the things we're are trying to safeguard them from, because mining would destroy the dunes in the area."
Umboja said the municipality has offered the state alternative locations for mining. Deputy Secretary General for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Timo Tatar said that other options are not good enough and the state's interests need to be considered.
"The Ruu deposit in Jõelähtme has the highest-quality limestone in Harju County. Disputes have gone on for a very long time, reaching the Supreme Court, with a mining permit already in place for the deposit. There is quite a deficit in Harju County and Northern Estonia for quality limestone to be used in construction. Supply security for construction limestone is less than seven years in Harju County. Considering the state's interests, the municipality's wish to create a local protected area there is quite disagreeable," Tatar said.
A mine near the village of Ruu has indeed been planned and contested before. The municipality government has attempted to place the area under protection before. While the municipality council has the right to designate a protected area, the decision was challenged in court.
"Väo Paas challenged the plan in administrative court the last time around and it is highly likely that is what will happen now. We believe that based on the Supreme Court's guidelines from the previous dispute, we have followed local interests that gives us the right to form a protected area and we are convinced that this time, the decision will stand and a mine cannot be built in those woods," Umboja said.
The municipality mayor said he is convinced the council will designate the protected area, with the municipality prepared to go to court again. It will be impossible to launch mining operations in Ruu in the meantime as that would require the court to reject the forming of the protected area.
Editor: Marcus Turovski