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Daily: Locals question minister's amendments to EDF training area plan

Farmsteads in the vicinity of the existing Nursipalu training area.
Farmsteads in the vicinity of the existing Nursipalu training area. Source: ERR

A redrawing of the western edge of a proposed Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) training zone in South Estonia has had some local scratching their heads as to why some areas of land are obtained in the zone, others excluded, daily Postimees reports in an article entitled "do missiles move in zig-zags?".

The Nursipalu training area in Võru County is scheduled to be roughly tripled in size, to reflect the realities of the changed security situation, modern weapons systems including artillery and heavy tanks, and hosting NATO allies based in Estonia, and pressures both on the existing training area and on the EDF's central training area in Harju County, North Estonia.

One Antsla Rural Municipality council member, Lehar Neve, owns over 75ha of land in the village of Luhamets, which has been excluded from the area to be taken over by the state, though Neve himself had said that the fact that the planned area would be smaller than originally projected was bad news for those Luhamets residents who would have been interested in selling to the state, Postimees reports (link in Estonian).

Neve himself said while he might sell if a good offer came, he would more likely prefer the alternative the state has proposed – a land swap, whereby owners will exchange their existing land in the Nursipalu training zone for state-owned land elsewhere.

Hanna Heinnurm, spokesperson for the Center for Defense Investment (RKK), told the daily that Luhamets village was simply too big to be included, hence defense minister Hanno Pevkur's decision to remove it from the plan, though doing so would mean, according to Postimees, that the village would now be in the line of fire for some of the heavy equipment to be used at Nursipalu.

The decision on what to do with the village will be down to the next administration in any case, since there is a general election due in March, while if agreement is not met, a new plan is likely to be needed in any case, Postimees reported.

The original Postimees piece (in Estonian) is here.

The RKK lies under the Ministry of Defense remit.

The current EDF training area at Nursipalu is around 3,000ha, while the current plan would triple that area to over 9,000ha, though the EDF originally requested a considerably larger chunk of land.

The earmarked zone includes 21 households and their surrounding land, which must be compensated for, while local residents have said the way in which the state's plans have been presented so far has been "murky".

The diagram below shows the existing and original plans - as noted both are likely to be superseded in any case (Luhamets lies slightly to the west of the red zone).

The existing Nursipalu training area (in red) compared with the proposed, expanded area (yellow). Source: ERR

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Postimees

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