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Estonian court rejects environmentalists' appeal of pulp mill plan

The pulp mill is to be built in Tartu or Viljandi County in Southern Estonia.
The pulp mill is to be built in Tartu or Viljandi County in Southern Estonia. Source: (Est-For Invest/ERR)

An administrative court in Estonia has rejected an appeal by civic environmental association Eesti Metsa Abiks (Helping Estonia's Forests, EMA) seeking the annulment of the administrative acts and national designated spatial plan concerning the construction of a planned €1 billion pulp mill for Est-For Invest OÜ.

The environmental association said in a press release that although the court did not accept their appeal, they remain of the opinion that civic involvement in the process was insufficient and the process of establishment of the plant has been more rapid than the provision of opportunities for society to have a say.

According to EMA, the establishment of the plant would run counter to society's expectations and in such a process, the involvement of citizens in decision-making must be ensured from the very start.

EMA maintains that establishing the plant can be discussed only after an agreement has been reached on the new national forestry development plan. Various interest groups have repeatedly demanded early opening of the national forestry development plan for a revision, citing its reliance on outdated research and imprecise data, it said.

In its appeal to the court, EMA questioned both the launch of the state special plan for the pulp mill as well as the current development of the environmental impact assessment process. The unavoidable prerequisite of the drawing up of the state's special plan is that there is national or international interest for the construction in question, but the fact that there is international interest for the construction of the pulp mill had not been mentioned in Est-For's statement or the letter of explanation of order number 141.

The association said that it must therefore only be subject to national interest, but the object of national interest cannot be the creation of an additional 200 jobs or the possible tax revenue, as in that case the construction of the production facilities of essentially every larger than average company would be linked with national special interest. The environmental activists said that there is therefore no actual lawful basis to the launch of the state's special plan.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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