Haljala Municipality residents concerned over quarry plans

Sagadi manor is in the area affected by the planned quarry.
Sagadi manor is in the area affected by the planned quarry. Source: Government Office

Local residents in Haljala Municipality, Lääne-Viru County, are concerned over a planned limestone quarry for the area which will abut on to several European Union Natura 2000 nature protection areas, and its impact on the environment.

The planned quarry is aimed at providing limestone aggregate and other material for the Rail Baltica high-speed rail project, among other high-profile civil engineering projects.

The planned quarry, at Paasi village, would be situated close to three manor houses, at Palmse, Sagadi and Vihula, which are listed as cultural heritage sites.

One local resident, from Vihula, told ERR that it was: "Incomprehensible that in a region where there are enough working quarries and mines to cover the entire need for mineral resources for the next 20 years, another mine is wanted. There has never been a quarry in this immediate area, and if this is pushed through, the damage will be both great and irreversible."

The issue is complicated by the fact that many residents and businesses in the area have not even been notified of the plans – a digitally-signed notification (link in Estonian) from the Environmental Board (Keskonnaamet) made public on July 8 had reportedly only reached four people, often because it arrived at a time when people were on holiday or away from the areas.

The board says that notification letters were emailed to those individuals whose email addresses are listed on the Eesti.ee portal, while, the board's deputy director, Erik Kosenkranius, says that the local community was involved via various other channels , including to 34 addresses of people who own property within a kilometer of the site of the planned Paasi quarry, 10 "relevant institutions", via snail mail and also in a notice published in local daily Virumaa teataja, while no significant number of notifications of the failed sending of emails was received, he said.

The affected areas include the villages of Paasi, Vihula and Adaka, and several other

The environmental impact assessment states that the quarry would be used in civil engineering projects, including road construction, while the initial application was made in 2013.

Much of the work will involve blasting and excavation, with the resulting aggregate to be used in the Rail Baltica high-speed rail project – the closes residence is 110 meters from the site, while one local resident in Paasi expressed concern over its effects on water quality in an area where many people obtain their water from wells and as water drained from the quarry will be diverted via local rivers, mainly the Mustoja.

A villager from Adaka also said that: "at least four protected Natura habitats will be destroyed," said a local person from Adaka village.

Kosenkranius said the Environmental Board has so far received three letters from citizens with counter-proposals, as per the standard procedure in environmental impact assessments, so far, with a town hall meeting scheduled for August 31 at Haljala.

Local residents also say that two earlier attempts at halting the project have been made.

The Environmental Board says the project is to be carried out on state land, and is of significance to the state, a line agreed upon by the economics affairs ministry.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Renata Tolmets

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