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Minister's plans for pulp mill plan meeting Monday may not come to fruition

Minister of Public Affairs Janek Mäggi
Minister of Public Affairs Janek Mäggi Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonian Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi (Centre) has stated his intention to meet with the board of Est-For, the company behind a proposed €1 billion pulp mill in southern Estonia, with a view to discussing wrapping up the national spatial plan for the project.

A decision was made last week in the face of strong public opposition to build the mill either on the Emajõgi river in the environs of the second city, Tartu, or the village of Tabivere about 20km to the north of Tartu, to terminate the designated national spatial plan which was to implement the development of the mill.

Whether this means no pulp mill will ever be built in Estonia remains to be seen, however.

Mr. Mäggi will be accompanied by Tiit Oidjärv, head of the planning department of the Ministry of Finance. 

''The intention is to hear out the opinions of Est-For before proceeding cautiously,'' Mr. Mäggi told ERR at lunchtime yesterday, Thursday.

''This isn't some sort of official hearing, but simply a get together to exchange views and see what to do next, and how,'' he went on.

Nonetheless, if business was unable to come to an agreement, the plan is in any case to be terminated from the government's side, Mäggi noted, whilst highlighting that the question still hangs in the air as to whether a similar pulp mill will be built elsewhere in Estonia.

Will they or won't they...

However, whilst Mr. Mäggi wished to hold the meeting next Monday, this wasn't suitable for the representatives of Est-For, they subsequently told ERR.

''It's true that Minister Janek Mäggi proposed a meeting for Monday, 2 July, but this has not been agreed. The proposed time slot wasn't amenable to the Est-For board and both Mr Mäggi and the Ministry of Finance have already been informed of this" said a spokesperson for Est-For.

Nonetheless Mr. Mäggi, who upon the termination of the pulp mill plan on 21 June stated the government's reasons for the move would be put in writing within days, told ERR that he was as of yet unaware of the cancellation of the meeting.

Opposition to the building of the pulp mill rested largely on environmental concerns; chemical pulp mills, which convert wood chips or other plant fibre sources into fibre boards which are often subsequently processed further into paper, require a water source such as a river, but also pollute rivers and surrounding areas.

Estonia is not the only sovereign nation where pulp mills have caused controversy; in the early 2000s the building of a pulp mill on the Uruguay River marking the border between Uruguay and Argentina was a source of tension between those two countries.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: ERR Uudised

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