The city of Tallinn has suggested the Harju County mineral resources plan not count on any new quarries being opened in the capital's territory. The neighboring Jõelähtme Municipality describes the city's position as unstatesmanlike.
The thematic plan for mineral resource use in Estonia's Harju County that should culminate in a social contract on what can be mined and where is only getting off the ground. In this phase, local governments are being consulted on what could be surveyed and how.
The input of Tallinn that lies on 160 square kilometers was brief when it said that no new quarries should be opened in its territory. Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet said that this has been the capital's position for some time. Tallinn also opposes launching geological surveys next to the existing Männiku Quarry in Nõmme.
The city has made a proposal to the Ministry of Finance to rule out opening new quarries or expanding existing ones in Tallinn.
But Andrus Umboja, mayor of the neighboring Jõelähtme Municipality, described Tallinn's position as insensible and unstatesmanlike, suggesting that Tallinn is a major consumer of mineral resources. Jõelähtme has been fighting plans to open new limestone quarries there for years.
"They cannot just exclude themselves, with everyone else expected to give and Tallinn only to take," Umboja said, adding that Tallinn should also be included in the thematic plan.
Vladimir Svet suggested that tying the use of resources to their origin is counterproductive, pointing out that Tallinn already has quarries in its territory. The deputy mayor remarked that mining is a burden for local people in a situation where Tallinn is one of the most densely populated areas in Estonia. "Our goal is to retain the city's green areas," Svet said, adding that if new quarries need to be opened at all, it should not be done in places where they would impact the quality of life of a lot of people.
Umboja countered by saying that the people of Jõelähtme also value their natural environment and that if every municipality felt the same, the debate would get nowhere at all.
Ministry: Tallinn will not be excluded
Alan Rood, adviser at the spatial planning department of the Ministry of Finance, said that no one will be excluded from the plan. Tallinn's request has been noted.
"We will consider the request if it proves possible. However, major material shortages would still force us to negotiate with Tallinn in terms of whether some activities could be pursued," Rood said.
Rood admitted that Tallinn's possibilities are limited, and that only the Tallinn-Saku sand quarry and the Väo limestone quarry could be expanded in a limited capacity.
The Maardu city government has also asked to be excluded from plans and that no more mining activity should take place in the town after current quarries are exhausted.
"Resources are scarce in the territory of Maardu. Not mining there would hardly be a problem," Rood said.
Viimsi Municipality that lies just east of Tallinn is concerned for its water resources, noting that large sand deposits can be found offshore, outside of its territory. The municipality government believes this sand could rather be used for local purposes.
"Unfortunately, mineral resources are where they are. Those more inclined to support mining as a potential source of revenue do not have all the resources in their own territory," Alan Rood said, giving the example of Anija Municipality in Harju County that is willing to consider opening quarries.
Things are more complicated regarding limestone, deposits of which are largely concentrated around Tallinn. Rood said that many former Tallinn residents have moved to the neighboring municipalities in hopes of getting away from the bustle of the city.
Editor: Marcus Turovski