Aab: Development of Ida-Viru County requires reorganization of industry

Oil shale production in Auvere, Ida-Viru County.
Oil shale production in Auvere, Ida-Viru County.

The ability to reorganize the industrial sector of East-Viru County is very important for the development of the region, Estonia's Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab has said.

Last week, experts at the Ministry of Finance offered the steering committee on transition for Ida-Viru County an overview of the state of play concerning the process and presented the proposals received. The emphasis in the region's transition to carbon-neutral economy will be on the preservation of jobs and improving the living environment. 

"The whole transition must be as painless as possible for the residents of the region, therefore we have set our sights in the preservation and creation of jobs clearly on the reorganization of the industry and development of entrepreneurship in Ida-Viru County," Aab said.

He added that the same is considered important also by local residents, as is revealed by a public opinion survey. 

The reorganization of the existing oil shale sector mostly means reducing carbon emissions and reorganizing the operations of the sector's companies. 

Priidu Ristkok, head of the department for regional development at the Ministry of Finance, said that this does not mean closing down production, but changes and new developments. 

"Specific ideas have been submitted for making changes to the equipment at oil shale companies, reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of plants, transitioning of the power plants to biomass, for instance," Ristkok said. 

Besides, proposals have been received from local business operators for the construction of solar and wind power stations and of a hydroelectric power plant in a mine area, the establishment of a center for the maintenance and servicing of the contemporary electric power network, as well as of a center of excellence in renewable energy in Ida-Viru County.  

According to Aab, new directions of business such as renewable energy and digitalization have good prospects and could make Ida-Viru County more attractive for young people, helping to stop the reduction in population numbers and emigration from the region. 

"After all, people can live in this region when they have a job, good spaces to live, and quality services," Aab said, describing the number of proposals and ideas to that effect as remarkable. 

For instance, the possibilities for the reconstruction of apartment buildings, construction of new zero-energy buildings, automation of the control of remote heating, construction of rental houses for young specialists and much more has been suggested.  

Proposals for the action plan for Ida-Viru County were submitted by ministries and various organizations, garnered during seminars and idea-gathering events on the just transition held in the region.

As the next step, the degree of priority of the suggested actions, their impact on the region, readiness for implementation, and cost, will be determined, along with potential sources of funding. The findings of that analysis are due to be ready in October. 

The list of activities concerning just transition for Ida-Viru County until 2030 will be set forth as a follow-on to the Ida-Viru County Action Plan 2015-2020. 

The purpose of the just transition initiative is to help the regions that would otherwise lose out in competitiveness as a result of the fulfilment of the climate goals. 

The directions of activity for the just transition in Ida-Viru County are climate neutrality of the oil shale sector by 2050, development of new business opportunities, and preservation of the wellbeing of residents. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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