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Minister: Not certain pulp mill will be built

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center).
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

It is not certain at this point that the €1 billion pulp mill planned by Est-For Invest will be built on the shore of the Emajõgi River in Southern Estonia, and the decision regarding whether and how the project will move forward will be made following the conclusion of comprehensive surveys, said Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center).

"No decision as to where the plant will be located has been initiated, and it is only in the course of this process that the prospective locations are to be selected, where the negative impacts would be as minimal as possible and positive ones as great as possible," the minister said in a press release. "Whether a location like this can be found at all, I do not know."

According to Aab, after the surveys, environmental impact assessments and the involvement of all parties, the government will have to decide whether and how to move forward with the process. "If in the course of the process circumstances are revealed which indicate that this cannot be done, it is possible to end the process at any time as well," he added.

The government in May 2017 launched a procedure for a national designated spatial plan to determine the most suitable location for a €1 billion pulp mill in Viljandi or Tartu County, as well as a strategic environmental impact assessment procedure to learn about the refinery's estimated impact on the environment.

"The national designated spatial plan was initiated in principle to explore the possibility of establishing such a plant," the minister explained. "That process is very long, and in the course of this process it should become clear whether and where it would be possible to build such a plant."

He also noted that in initiating the procedure for a national designated spatial plan, aspects such as where it would be possible to procure raw materials for the plant, transport connections and availability of sufficient amounts of water were examined.

Aab is scheduled on Wednesday to attend an emergency Tartu City Council meeting which will address Est-For Invest's plan to build a lage pulp mill in Southern Estonia.

"The wish is to involve a base as broad as possible, for all the arguments to be put on the table — for and against — and to judge accordingly," the minister said, noting that the goal was to involve competent arguments, including from scientists and environmental specialists. "It is only after this that a decision can be made — not sooner."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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