Mixed feelings on government financial support to Nursipalu municipalities

Estonia's head of state, President Alar Karis (second from left) visiting a military training area in South Estonia.
Estonia's head of state, President Alar Karis (second from left) visiting a military training area in South Estonia. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

A government decision to pay €10 million in support measures to South Estonian municipalities affected by a planned military training area expansion has led to differing opinions within those municipalities, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.

The compensation being granted to municipalities affected by the expansion of the Nursipalu military training area is separate from damages to be issued to private property owners subject to a forced sale.

The four municipalities in question are: Võru Rural Municipality, Võru City, both of which will receive €3 million, plus Antsla Rural Municipality and Rõuge Rural Municipality, which will be getting €2 million apiece.

The feeling in Rõuge, AK reported, was that the state compensation had been rushed, and will do little to alleviate public resentment toward the expansion, which will see the training area more than triple in size from its current 3,000ha.

Britt Vaher, the municipality's mayor, told AK that: "We had requested an assessment of the effects on the environment, the public, nature, the socio-economic impact, with only then mitigation measures to be developed. However in this case, it seems somewhat of an admonishment that, 'here you are, here is the money, now go and mitigate the local impact yourselves.'"

Meanwhile in both Võru municipalities, AK reported that there is no shortage of possible beneficiaries for the compensation, as in the county of the same name, as a whole.

For instance, a kindergarten is planned for Sõmerpalu, near Nursipalu.

Nursipalu training ground. Source: ERR/ Datawrapper

The bigger challenge is to find ways of using the money which prove amenable to all.

Võru city district elder Kalmer Puusepp said: "This initial measure will give the municipality of Võru more ideas on how to distribute this money specifically, so that it brings people as much relief as possible. As to how to accomplish this, the municipality needs to do a lot of work to figure that out."

The Nursipalu training zone was recommissioned in the 2000s, but the changed security situation, the arrival of greater capabilities for the Estonian Defense Forces and the presence of NATO allies and their equipment has prompted the government to bring the facility more in line with its North Estonian counterpart, the Central Training Area, in Harju County.

The legislation required to give the expansion the go-ahead passed its first Riigikogu reading (of three) last week.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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