Rein Sikk: Long live polygons, wind turbines and nuclear plants!

Rein Sikk.
Rein Sikk. Source: Rauno Volmar / Vikipeedia

Developers of major projects have been unable or unwilling to do fair business. Instead of opening their coffers, they lament Estonians as being anti-progress and new things, Rein Sikk finds in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

Estonians want new polygons and nuclear power plants. Our people are dreaming about wind turbines, factories and railroads that have the potential to make life better. Unfortunately, we never get as far as constructing them. And the reason is the ineptitude of developers and their lack of basic communication skills.

Do not believe it when you are told Estonians are peculiar and backwards. Do not believe it when it is suggested Estonians do not want factories, quarries, highways, power plants and training grounds. Do not for any reason believe talk of Estonians being anti-progress. These are lies.

Those spreading such malicious rumors point to the infamous NIMBY or "not in my back yard" syndrome, which has allegedly reached epidemic proportions in Estonia. Estonians have become the targets of slander, according to which we do not allow anything to be built, especially near where we live.

However, let us shift our perspective. Let us presume someone wants to build a wind turbine in my yard, a railroad outside my window, a nuclear plant next to my outhouse or a military training grounds just on the other side of some bushes. All are necessary objects. All are sources of profit for their developers. But what do I get – my environment disrupted and losses accrued. There is more noise, my surroundings are altered, security becomes an issue and it's more crowded. Those are my losses next to the developer's potential gain.

What could be done in a situation where one side's profit comes at the expense of disturbing the other. The logical course of action is to try and do business.

The common sense approach would be to calculate how much this disturbance is worth and launch negotiations. Fair and decent compensation needs to be offered. Everything in this world has a price. So let us talk about that price. And let us keep talking until both developers and those who find themselves in the path of their developments are happy, where wind turbines fetch toleration compensation, nuclear power plants disturbance compensation, quarries noise compensation, railroads rail squeal compensation and polygons compensation for giving up one's home.

But how often and how much have developers really offered those in the way? How much of proposed compensation has been fair and to the satisfaction of both sides? Not too much at all. Otherwise, the streets would be full of slogans a la, "We want a factory!" and "We demand a quarry!" Surely a beneficial outcome for everyone.

Developers of major projects have been unable or unwilling to do fair business. Instead of opening their coffers, they lament Estonians as being anti-progress and new things. A classic case of inability to see the beam in one's own eye and no desire to find it.

Add poor communication to draconian business practices and we are left with recent development messes. I am referring to the wave of indignation over the plan to build a nuclear plant at Letipea and the trouble surrounding the expansion of the Nursipalu Training Area that is shaping up to be a mini civil war. The indignation is difficult to rein in now that poor communication and ever worse business have angered the locals.

The topics at hand have been the subject of heated discussions at the Kadrina village sauna, with a simple and logical solution proposed for Nursipalu in the volume of €21 million to be paid to the 21 families looking to lose their homes, or using it to build new homes where those about to be made homeless want them. Having to give up one's home cannot be painless. But rationally speaking, getting paid a cool million to do so is an offer difficult to refuse. A case of resolution through fair business.

Instead, endless vehicles are going back and forth between the ministry and the site in southern Estonia, with fancy lawyers and PR specialists hired and preparations made for court battles and protests. The Nursipalu affair is shaping up to cost a lot more than €21 million at the end of the day... But I believe that the days of honest business will come, when every wind turbine and training polygon will be a common victory.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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