The board of junior coalition member Social Democratic Party (SDE) decided by consensus that environmental and economic impact assessments were not enough to move forward with the ongoing special plan for the construction of a €1 billion pulp mill planned near Tartu, noting that the social and cultural impacts of the planned project both on the location and the university town of Tartu must be analyzed as well.
The unanimous stance of the party's board was that these impact assessments must be carried out, and that if this implies the current special plan must be changed, then that must be done as well, party spokespeople said on Tuesday.
Throughout the entire process, there must be complete certainty that when establishing the pulp mill, the objective set in the water policy framework directive and a water management plan is fulfilled according to which the condition of the water of the Emajõgi River and Lake Peipus must be good by 2027. If the establishment of the mill works against that, moving forward with the plan is unthinkable, the coalition party found.
"Estonia needs innovative solutions for the better utilization and value increase of raw wood that until now has mostly been exported," Minister of Culture and SDE Deputy Chairman Indrek Saar said in a press release. "But considering the great social and cultural value of the forest for Estonian people, these solutions, in addition to solely economic efficiency, must also take into consideration the ecological and cultural importance of the forest and the impact on people's living environment."
"The question lies in how we imagine Tartu in the near future," said Tartu city councilmember and SDE board member Marju Lauristin. "Are we currently basing this unilaterally on the interest of the producers or bringing to the forefront the development needs of Tartu as a unique university town? If there will be 50 days per year in Tartu during which the city will be smothered by the stench of pulp production in five years already, it would be catastrophic for the university town."
Approximately 7,000 signatures given to the so-called Tartu appeal, a statement drawn up by citizen's initiative, are to be handed over at an extraordinary Tartu City Council meeting on Wednesday.
In the letter addressed to Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas, council chairman Aadu Must and the city council, a proposal will be made to appeal to the government to stop the initiated special plan. "We demand that the City of Tartu file for the repeal of the government's order 'Launching of a strategic assessment of the state's special plan and environmental impact for the establishment of a pulp mill and the infrastructure necessary for its operation'," the statement said.
Editor: Aili Vahtla