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Tartu City Council: Pulp mill designated spatial plan must be called off

Extraordinary meeting of Tartu City Council on Wednesday night. March 7, 2018.
Extraordinary meeting of Tartu City Council on Wednesday night. March 7, 2018. Source: (ERR)

By the conclusion of an extraordinary meeting that lasted nearly seven hours on Wednesday, Tartu City Council decided that the procedure for the drawing up of a national designated spatial plan for a pulp mill planned to be built near the city must be called off.

The council's draft decision, which was drawn up by consensus among council factions on Tuesday night, simply awaited the results of a vote, but this vote was preceded by hours of debate on Wednesday

Late Wednesday night, the city council earned 33 votes in favor of the following decision: "Due to the unlawfulness and questionability of current procedural steps, the implementation of a national special plan is forbidden and the procedure for the drawing up of a national special plan must be called off."

The Estonian government launched a national special plan for the planning of a pulp mill in Viljandi and Tartu Counties last May.

Tartu City Council noted in its declaration that even observing environmental standards and using the best available technology (BAT), the amount of pollutants the planned pulp mill could potentially release into the environment is extraordinarily high.

The council also found that the process of launching a national special plan, changing of the principles for financing the preparation of a special plan, and the preparation of the intention to develop the special plan's baseline scenario and impact assessment was not sufficiently transparent or inclusive.

Opponents: Tartu must be allowed say in decisions affecting city's future

Tartu City Council opened its extraordinary meeting on the subject of the pulp mill planned for construction on the bank of the Emajõgi River at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Tartu's appeal working group, which consists of Tartu city residents and experts from the University of Tartu (TÜ) and Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMÜ), were of the opinion that in a democratic Estonia, the city of Tartu must retain the right to a veto in decisions that will affect the future of the city.

Tartu residents collected 8,000 signatures against the construction of the pulp mill, which were handed over at the city council meeting.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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