The leadership of the coalition Pro Patria Party is planning on proposing to the government to consider alternative solutions to the current special plan for the billion-euro pulp mill to be built in the Tartu area, Pro Patria Chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder said on Tuesday.
The party's leadership discussed a proposal submitted by Pro Patria's Tartu chapter to terminate the special plan and came to the conclusion that in a case where both locals' as well as local governments' opposition to the planned mill is so great, the government cannot move forward with the special plan in its current form.
"We are going to propose to our coalition partners to review their decisions thus far," Seeder told ERR. "Whether this must be done by terminating the special plan or by changing the area of the plan, these are legal and technical questions. How this will be resolved must be decided by the government now, evidently on the proposal of the Minister of Public Administration. We all understand that with such opposition, in a democratic country, a mill will not be built there."
Seeder believes that both the government as well as potential investors underestimated the reaction the project would garner and were not prepared for the reaction that has been demonstrated in Tartu. "This still has to be a project born of cooperation between investors and local governments," he added.
According to the party chairman, IRL won't exactly demand the termination of the special plan, but wouldn't be against it either. In his opinion, the project could freely move forward under a regular plan as well.
Seeder: Special plan not needed to conduct studies
"I believe anyway that when it comes to the central authority, special plans should be reserved more for cases involving for example national defence objects, in which case it would not be possible to abandon [the project] due to local opposition," Seeder explained. "And we cannot position a national defence object in Finland or Latvia, for example; we have to locate it somewhere on our own country's territory. Or certain infrastructure objects which pass through multiple local governments."
He also pointed out that a special plan isn't even actually necessary to conduct studies. "If the desire, interest and capability exists to conduct trustworthy studies, then this can be done without enacting a special plan," Seeder said. "There are absolutely no obstacles to this whatsoever."
Seeder sent a letter regarding the matter to members of the party as well. "The government must abandon its plan to complete the special plan in its original form," read the letter. "We find that we must enter into open dialogue with the major investment developer to try to find a new location for the mill."
Editor: Aili Vahtla