Health Board showing red light to Rail Baltic's Ülemiste terminal

Rail Baltic's Ülemiste terminal.
Rail Baltic's Ülemiste terminal. Source: Rail Baltic Estonia

The Health Board (Terviseamet) has not approved the detailed plan of the planned high-speed Rail Baltica Ülemiste joint terminal in Tallinn, as the board estimates that there is already so much noise pollution in the area that no disturbance should be added to that. Rail Baltica Estonia has complained to the Secretary-General at the Ministry of Social Affairs that the agency was violating the law.

Anvar Salomets, the technical manager at Rail Baltic Estonia, told ERR that the construction tender documents for the Ülemiste joint terminal have been completed in principle and the tender will be announced in the coming weeks. Already in the autumn, a contract is expected to be signed with the builder of the Linda terminal.

But a construction contract cannot be concluded without a building permit. And a building permit cannot be applied for until a detailed plan for the common terminal has been established. Last autumn, the company was waiting for the city to establish a plan by the end of May.

"Today, the city says that before Midsummer, i.e. between the end of May and June 24, there is one council session and it is being targeted. Today, we are still on this course," Salomets said.

In terms of planning stages, implementation is still not in sight. The city government must first adopt the plan. It will then be sent to a public display and, once all the responses to its written comments have been received, a major debate will take place.

It is likely that such an important plan will also receive proposals that are not taken into account, i.e. the Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) must listen to the parties and form his or her position. In the meantime, there are a number of notification and procedural deadlines.

In order to stay on schedule, the company hoped to adopt the plan at the end of last year. But this phase, in which the various agencies check the legality of the plan, took longer than expected and continues to this day.

There is no more room for noise next to the noise of St. Petersburg Road

One of the most difficult disputes is with the Health Board. Namely, the board announced already in November that they could not approve the plan of the terminal. "As a result of the noise survey, the standard noise levels are exceeded in the areas with residential and public buildings shown on the noise maps," the agency wrote.

The Tallinn city government asked the agency to think, but a similar answer came in mid-December.

The board explained that already without the terminal, the noise level in the area would rise above nine decibels both day and night. "In addition, the data provided confirm that the noise level will increase further," the board said.

Anvar Salomets said that there is essentially no problem with the Ülemiste terminal.

"In the view of the railway, the whole situation today is still enormously improved. After all, this whole freight park is being moved out of the city, the trajectory is being made straight on the tramway, and the noise barriers are coming around the railway," Salomets listed. "Urban traffic, mostly traffic on the Peterburi tee highway, is what feeds the cumulative picture so much that the norms have been exceeded."

In its letters, the Health Board also emphasizes Peterburi tee and the apartment buildings there.

"The construction of a tramway closer to residential buildings on the Peterburi road means that additional noise sources are being planned in the existing noisy area. The agency is of the opinion that no additional noise sources should be planned in the noisy area where residential buildings are located," the appeal said.

RBE to the Ministry: why does the Health Board ignore the law?

The board told ERR that it had also received additional documents from the company after the December letter and in turn provided them with feedback.

"There were inaccuracies in the submitted materials. In addition, no updated materials have been submitted to the Health Board," the Health Board stated, emphasizing that it bases its work on data and applicable laws and regulations.

In the last letter in early February, the Health Board mentioned a number of errors that the developer should correct both in the explanatory memorandum to the detailed plan and in the noise study.

"All of the above is necessary in order to be able to compare the existing situation without the common terminal and the perspective situation with the common terminal and the associated noise sources," the board said.

Rail Baltica Estonia has not replied to that letter. On Wednesday, the company turned to the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Social Affairs Maario Mändmaa.

"Please clarify on the basis of which legislation the Health Board violates the provisions of the Planning Act and the Atmospheric Air Protection Act and requests information that is not provided by these acts?" the company's project manager Ainar Viires asked.

Salomets: The city can move on without the permission of the Health Board

"Life has to move on and there is a situation like this that we are getting a whole piece of land better, but somewhere there is a kind of dog tail that cannot be crossed," Anvar Salomets, who said that the noise problem should decrease in the future anyway said.

"The measures are, among other things, the reconstruction of Peterburi tee. It is simply on a different schedule compared to the reconstruction of the upper common terminal. We are now honestly talking to the city that everyone must honestly cover their part," Salomets said.

"At the moment, it seems that the city can promise to do its own thing, ie some reconstruction measures of the Peterburi tee highway can be taken into account," Salomets said.

However, the Health Board clearly stated in its letter that it was based on a noise study submitted by the company. "According to the board, it is not possible to know exactly what the noise situation will look like in the future," the letter stated, adding that due to the increase in traffic, noise may increase on the Peterburi road.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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