No binding decisions concerning the construction of a proposed pulp mill in Southern Estonia have been made, and with the initiation of a national designated spatial plan the planning procedure thereof has only begun, Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi (Centre) said in his response to the work group of a Tartu appeal.
"The initiation of the spatial plan means a decision to start searching for the most suitable location," Mäggi said in his response. "Should it become clear in the course of the selection of the location that a suitable location for the plant does not exist, conduct of activity will not be possible in the future and the drawing up of the plan will be ended."
Mäggi said that the purpose of the surveys conducted as part of the national designated spatial plan is to obtain knowledge-based information based upon which to make the decisions connected with the plan and determine whether a location is suitable for the establishment of the plant or not.
The minister added that in the course of the procedure of the national designated spatial plan, the impact of the planned plant on Estonia's forestry sector must also be assessed and the outcome taken into consideration when making decisions concerning the plan.
"I would also like to clarify that the national designated spatial plan and the simultaneously conducted impact assessment consist of two parts," Mäggi explained. "First, the best location for the planned facility is selected by means of comparing alternatives, after which a detailed solution will be set out for the said location, which in its nature is similar to a detailed plan."
The Estonian government in May 2017 launched a procedure for a national designated spatial plan to find the most suitable location for a €1 billion pulp mill in Viljandi and Tartu Counties, as well as a strategic environmental impact assessment procedure to determine refinery's estimated impact on the environment.
The company Est-For Invest is planning to build a €1 billion pulp mill near Tartu which would process approximately 3.3 million tonnes of pulpwood per year and export the output. The planned average production capacity is up to 750,000 tonnes of bio products per year. The plant would go into operation in 2022.
Editor: Aili Vahtla