Estonia's Minister of Culture Indrek Saar (SDE) signed an order on Thursday to declare the damn of the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant on the Jägala River in Northern Estonia a cultural monument.
According to the Ministry of Culture, the proposal to declare the dam a cultural monument was made by Jõelähtme Municpality, the owner of the structure.
The ministry said on Wednesday that the minister intends to declare the dam, the biggest and most remarkable dam built in pre-WWII Estonia, a cultural monument.
"The dam of the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant is a remarkable, large-scale concrete structure and piece of engineering construction executed on a highly professional level which, following its completion, was named the most beautiful industrial building in Estonia," said Saar. He said that the power plant's dam is in a good state of repair, having been reconstructed in 2002, and is still performing its original function. He also noted that there was important and valid public interest in the preservation of the dam as a piece of cultural heritage.
The minister observed that, at the same time, the Linnamäe dam and its zone extend to the Jägala special nature conservation area and the dam's preservation as a national monument has to do with the conservation objectives of the Jägala nature area, however in assessing environmental impacts, the impact on cultural heritage should be viewed as a significant environmental impact as well.
The Linnamäe power plant, which belongs to Estonian state-owned electric company Eesti Energia, is the biggest and second most powerful hydroelectric power plant in Estonia. The plant has a capacity of 1.15 megawatts and produces approximately 6,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to supply about 3,000 households.
Eesti Energia has been engaged in a dispute with the Environmental Board over the production of electricity at Jägala for many years. Under a regulation signed by the Minister of the Environment, the Jägala River is listed as a body of water protected as a habitat of salmonidae species of fish. Under the Water Act, the passage of the fish must be guaranteed both up- and downstream by a dam constructed on a body of water or stretch thereof recognized as a spawning area and habitat of salmon, brown trout, salmon trout or grayling as of Jan. 1, 2013. Eesti Energia has failed to comply with this requirement.
In 2011, the company drew up a preliminary design of a fish passage and filed an application for co-financing with the Environmental Investment Centre (KIK). Construction of the fish passage was never initiated as it remained unclear whether or not it would have the desired impact.
As a result, the extension of Eesti Energia's permit for the special use of water to produce electric energy at Linnamäe has come under threat. The company's current permit expires at the end of this year.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla