Est-For awaiting government decision on termination of pulp mill plan
At a meeting held last Friday attended by the heads of Est-For Invest and shareholders in the project for a pulp mill to be built near Tartu, it was decided to wait for the Estonian government's official position and reasons for terminating the mill's national designated spatial plan before taking any further steps.
"We did indeed have a meeting with our shareholders on Friday, but we were unable to decide anything other than to wait for the state's official position or some kind of official documentation regarding whether and when [the national designated spatial plan] would begin to be terminated," Margus Kohava, one of the heads of Est-For Invest, told ERR on Monday.
Kohava declined to answer, however, when asked how likely it was that Est-For itself would withdraw the spatial plan. "Currently the only decision made by the shareholders is to wait for a written decision by the government regarding the termination thereof and then see from there," he said.
He noted that there has been no contact with the Estonian government or with Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi (Centre). "Only via the media," he explained. "We don't know anything more; we haven't met. Meetings before today wouldn't have worked for us. And as far as I have read in the media, [Mäggi] said that he had no need to meet."
Kohava likewise wouldn't comment regarding whether or not it would suit Est-For in principle if their planned €1 billion pulp mill were to be built elsewhere in Estonia, for example in Ida-Viru County.
"I can't comment on anything like that," he said. "Truly the only position adopted at the shareholder meeting on Friday was that we will first wait for a written decision by the government regarding the termination [of the plan] and then we will consider what's next."
Mäggi: Est-For should consider different location
Mäggi told ERR on Friday that the government would likely reach a decision in two or three months. "As of today, Finance Ministry officials are drawing up the grounds for terminating the spatial plan based on the government's decision, and once these grounds have been compiled, we will introduce them to Est-For, and then a government decision will follow," he explained.
The minister noted that the government has proposed to the business-owners that the latter should reconsider the location of their proposed mill.
"Estonia is in any case interested in large investments being made in Estonia," Mäggi said. "But on the other hand, we are not interested in doing so at any cost."
Nonetheless, he noted that Estonia has a strong timber industry and many good companies within it.
"I believe that freedom of enterprise is strong in Estonia; that entrepreneurs deal with enterprise and that the state deals with the leading and administration of the state," said the minister. "We cannot dictate where and how they should conduct their business, but we must still take into account the interests of Estonia's 1.3 million residents."
Editor: Aili Vahtla