At a meeting on Tuesday, Rõuge Municipal Council decided unanimously to oppose the proposed expansion of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Nursipalu Training Area.
"The result of the decision was, that we demand further environmental studies to be conducted on this area. We demand that this be carried out in accordance with the relevant planning laws, and with the involvement of the entire community and municipality leadership," Rõuge Municipal Council Chair Mati Kuklane (EKRE) told ERR.
According to Kuklane, a lot of issues related to Nursipalu remain unresolved, including a compensation mechanism for people who would have to leave their homes should the expansion go ahead.
"As it turns out, we don't even have any legislation, which would enable people to be compensated at a fair price. Right now, the law says (they would be entitled to) the market price (of their property) plus an additional 30 percent incentive fee. And if somebody doesn't agree to that, then in the case of a forced eviction, they will only get the market price."
Kuklane pointed out, that the market price of properties in Rõuge Municipality, which is one of the more remote regions of Estonia, is far below the levels found in Tallinn and elsewhere in the country. "We simply cannot do this to our people," he said.
The council chair added, that the question of what will happen to the people living in the two-kilometer zone surrounding the military training area, is also yet to be resolved. "There really is no legal mechanism (to protect) those who are going to suffer the most as a result of this noise pollution," Kuklane said.
The municipal council's proposal is to begin by amending the law in order for people to receive fair amounts of compensation for their properties. "There are families, who have been building their homes (in the area) for decades, and to now have to sell them off for €100,000 or €150,000 and buy an apartment in Lasnamäe and then look out of the window.... Well, for us, this is not the right approach," said Kuklane.
According to current plans, the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Nursipalu Training Area is due to be expanded to a total size of 9,882 hectares. While the majority of the area into which the expansion will take place is agricultural, it also includes more than 200 privately owned plots of land and 21 homes.
Editor: Michael Cole