Local government leaders want more Nursipalu meetings with minister
Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has reiterated that compensation for the Nursipalu military training area expansion will be "decent," both for local government and for private property owners in the affected area in South Estonia.
"Local government will be getting a higher fee [in comparison with the existing training area] than before. In addition, the establishment fee to go to the municipalities of Rõuge, Antsla and Võru, plus the City of Võru, is being developed," Pevkur said Monday.
The minister was referring to the three rural municipalities whose territory the planned expansion will affect, along with a nearby urban municipality.
"Furthermore, the compensation for homeowners remaining within the expansion area will be decent. In addition, we want to create a special noise mitigation measure which will allow residents in the affected area to, for instance, replace their windows," Pevkur went on, via a defense ministry press release.
The minister had met with representatives of Rõuge, Antsla and Võru municipalities, in order to talk about the next steps in relation to the planned expansion, necessitated by the changed security situation, and to bring Nursipalu in line with its North Estonian counterpart, the Central Training Area (Keskpolügoon) in Harju County.
This means Nursipalu will more than triple in size from its current area of around 3,000ha.
At the meeting: "We discussed the current situation, principles of possible compensation measures and subsequent actions. We agreed to hold a new meeting immediately after the Government of the Republic has formulated a position on the principles of compensation measures. The goal is to further intensify communication, and to find a balance to mitigate the development of Nursipalu and the consequent effects," Pevkur went on.
One of the municipal mayors, Britt Vahter of Rõuge Rural Municipality, was thankful for the meeting but thought more could be done in this way rather than via the media.
"It would be very nice if municipalities were kept informed and these meetings took place regularly. The exchange of information could take place tightly, and not through the media," Vahter said.
Arguably, it is media pressure which has kept the issue in the public eye.
The initial evaluations of properties within the expansion zone, numbered at 21, have been ordered and the results are likely to be presented to owners this month or next month. Following that, negotiations with landowners will be ongoing, in terms of land acquisition.
The intention is the compensation be as close to a like-for-like land exchange as is possible, the ministry says, while the defense minister has recently stated that compensation for properties will be above the average market rate for comparable real estate.
Nursipalu will be used by both the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), which has, for instance, greater artillery capabilities with the acquisition of South Korean-made K-9 "Thunder" self-propelled guns, and by NATO allies, who also sometimes use heavy equipment such as main battle tanks.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte