Responding on Monday to an interpellation in the Riigikogu regarding the State Forest Management Centre (RMK) and the company Est-For Invest, which is interested in building a €1 billion pulp mill in Southern Estonia, Minister of the Environment Siim Kiisler (IRL) confirmed that it is standard practice for the RMK to sign letters of intent.
Kiisler was responding to an interpellation submitted by members of the Free Party parliamentary group on Feb. 5. The members referred to the fact that the RMK, which falls under the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment, drew up a letter of intent together with pulp mill developer Est-For Invest which will guarantee half of all pulpwood produced by the RMK over the next 15 years to the yet-unbuilt mill.
Those who submitted the interpellation wanted to know what the ministry's official stance on the matter was. They also wanted to know why such a legal agreement would be signed before it has been determined whether or not the mill can even be built, with regard to environmental impact and plans.
Kiisler confirmed that the signing of letters of intent is standard practice for the RMK, citing a number of examples of previous letters of intent.
"The ministry is of the position that the signing of letters of intent is in accordance with current laws and will in no way affect environmental impact assessment and plan processes moving forward," he said. "I'd like to stress the fact that a letter of intent has not yet been signed."
He did, however, say that a working draft thereof does exist.
Kiisler explained that the government decided last May to launch a national designated spatial plan in order to explore possibilities for the construction of a pulp mill in Estonia. The process lasts for years, and includes a slew of impact assessments.
"Whether the mill will be built is dependent upon both the results of the assessments as well as the decisions of the investors," he said. "If it turns out that it isn't possible to hedge the environmental impacts to a degree tolerable by the environment, then such a mill will not be built."
Editor: Aili Vahtla