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Kallas: Oil plant should be built with time-limited complex permit

Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The government is now examining three options for the new Auvere shale oil processing plant. However, during Vikerraadio's "Prime Minister in the Studio" program yesterday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that awarding the plant a temporary comprehensive approval is the most likely course of action.

The Supreme Court ruling states that the new Enefit 280-2 does not align with Estonia's long-term climate objectives. However, the existing legislation does not allow a complex permit with a time limit, the solution that has been recently discussed.

"There are three alternatives that we are discussing with the government this Thursday. Alternative number one: not to build the plant. This means that the economic impact would be roughly as follows: the €330 million invested plus the €23 million needed now would be wiped out, and 450 people would not be employed at the plant. It may also be necessary to close the Estonia mine, which would mean the loss of 680 jobs as well," Kallas said.

Another option would be to postpone the complex permit procedure until after the climate law has been adopted, the prime minister continued.

"This would mean that no such permit would be issued until the climate bill is passed. But this decision will also have economic consequences. Perhaps the construction of the plant would have to be cancelled, which would essentially mean laying off people working on the construction, and this restart would require six months of preparation, in addition to the rolling costs," Kallas said.

Kallas deems the third alternative, in which the construction of the plant proceeds without interruption and the legislation is amended to permit time-limited complex permits or to specify the substantive criteria that render a complex permit illegitimate, to be the most probable. "This means that we will put a very clear time limit on how long the plant will operate," Kallas said.

"So this would also take into account their climate goals. But this requires a legal analysis and this amendment should already be included in some of the laws pending before the Riigikogu," she said.

Arp Müller, the program's host, asked Kaja Kallas how she is going to face young climate activists, who opposed the plant and won the support of the Supreme Court, if the government does what she recommends.

"Exactly as I always do, because we couldn't change these decisions at the time they were made. Those decisions were made before we were elected. I have always felt that we should not make decisions that contradict the direction of the world or Europe. And we're making a lot of decisions that are going in the right direction, such as this climate bill or everything we're doing in the area of renewable energy, green reforms to make businesses greener. We're doing everything we can to mitigate all of this," Kallas said.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

Source: Interviewed by Arp Müller and Mirko Ojakivi

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