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Billion-euro pulp mill project: Coalition party divided

Siim Kiisler.
Siim Kiisler. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ ERR)

Environment Minister Siim Kiisler (IRL) thinks the billion-euro investment project for a new pulp mill on the River Emajõgi is a good idea, his party colleague and chairman of its Tartu section, Peeter Laurson, is completely against it.

Kiisler told ERR on Wednesday that the planned pulp mill did indeed require a “proper and quality” assessment in terms of its environmental impact. Estonia’s environmental organizations have already expressed their worry that the state will put the economy first and accept a negative impact on the local habitat and environment.

“This is decisive. If the environmental assessment shows that [the pulp mill] won’t damage the environment, then the businessmen’s investment is a good thing,” Kiisler said.

His colleague in the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), chairman of the Tartu section Peeter Laurson, sees things quite differently. He is categorically opposed to the project.

Their section was completely against the project, which threatened to pollute the entire area, Laurson said. “We can see that the rash approach taken has the potential to substantially affect the environment of Tartu for the worse,” he added.

Kiisler’s response to this is that he himself hasn’t talked to Laurson and “couldn’t say what exactly the locals are worried about”, but that he hardly thought they were against more jobs and investments.

Est-For Invest is planning on establishing a €1 billion pulp mill near Tartu that would process approximately 2.5-3.3 million tons of pulpwood annually for export. According to initial forecasts, the mill would begin production in 2022.

The public procurement for finding a consultant for the government's special plan was announced on Aug. 17; its deadline is Sept. 27.

There is no location determined yet, and in addition to determining a suitable place to build the facility, an assessment must be carried out regarding the impacts of the planned mill, such as its impact on the river basin or the Estonian and Latvian forestry markets.

Editor: Dario Cavegn


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