Court returns City of Tartu appeal of pulp mill plan ({{commentsTotal}})

Protest in support of protecting the Emajõgi River in Tartu on Saturday. May 19, 2018.
Protest in support of protecting the Emajõgi River in Tartu on Saturday. May 19, 2018. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Tallinn Administrative Court on Wednesday returned without review an appeal by the City of Tartu over the initiation of the national designated spatial plan in connection with the construction of a pulp mill in Southern Estonia, as according to the court, the city lacks grounds for the right of appeal and the complaint is premature.

The court ruled that the initiation of the procedure of the national designated spatial plan does not infringe on the rights of the Tartu city government.

The initiation of the procedure of the national designated spatial plan does not necessarily bring with it the adption of a national designated spatial plan and construction of the mill, the court found.

The City of Tartu will be able to contest the decision to adopt a national designated spatial plan in the future, should the planning procedure reach that point. The city has no right, however, to demand the termination of a planning procedure initiated based on public interest, the court said.

The administrative court explined that it isn't possible at this stage to claim that the initiation of the procedure of the national designated spatial plan will inevitably lead to an infringement on the city's rights.

The City of Tartu claimed in its appeal that the wrong kind of planning procedure had been chosen for the planning of the location of the proposed mill, and that a substantive preliminary selection of the location had been made before the procedure of the national designated spatial plan was launched.

The city argued that the conduct of a procedure of a national designated spatial plan without the proper legal grounds unjustifiably infringes on the city's right to self-government and that the establishment of the mill will entail a substantial negative environmental impact that will be expressed in the city of Tartu.

The returning of the complaint does not strip the filing party of the right to take the matter to court again, as a returned complaint is deemed as never having been handled by the court.

Previously, two environmental organisations — the nonprofits Eesti Metsa Abiks (Helping Estonia's Forests) and Emajõe Kaitseselts (Emajõgi Protective Association) — have contested the same government order. Both appeals were likewise returned by the court without review.

The court's ruling to return a complaint can be appealed within 15 days.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS



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