The industrialists behind a project to build a large pulp mill in Southern Estonia recently visited Räpina, Võru and Setomaa Municipalities in the country's southeast to explore the possibility of building the plant at the junction of the three municipalities and using Lake Lämmijärv, located on Estonia's eastern border, as the source of water for the mill.
According to this plan, the mill would be built at the point where the three municipalities meet and would be supplied with water via large pipes from a distance of 20-30 km, reported Lõuna-Eesti Postimees, the Southern Estonian regional edition of daily Postimees.
"They wanted to know if the municipality altogether agrees to them starting surveys for establishing the plant," Võru Municipal Mayor Kalmer Puusepp said of the visit paid by Est-For Invest OÜ board members Margus Kohava and Aadu Polli.
He said that the municipality will have the council discuss the matter. "A plant like this would serve as a significant economic boost for the whole country," Puusepp said. "It could give new vitality to the entire region."
Setomaa Council Chairman Rein Järvelill, who attended the meeting with the Est-For executives alongside Municipal Mayor Raul Kudre, said that he and Kudre had more questions than the developers.
"If they wish to move forward with a national designated spatial plan, the whole process will be led by the Government of the Republic and the municipality can only express its opinion," Järvelill said. "We cannot overlook the opinion of the people and must definitely take it into account."
Est-For suggests link to water body can be built
According to the council chair, the Est-For executives said at the meeting that the mill does not necessarily have to be built along a large river and that a two-way water link with Lake Lämmijärv could be built instead.
"When it comes to transport, the developers of the mill need a good railway and road connection," Järvelill added.
Räpina Municipal Mayor Enel Liin, however, was skeptical ahead of the meeting. He said that residents and the council have to speak their opinion, adding that the way the issue had been handled thus far has created opposition to the project.
"In my opinion, none of the sides have presented these topics the right way," Liin said.
EMA: Opposition against mill, not specific location
Pro-forest environmental nonprofit Eesti Metsa Abiks (EMA) issued a statement in connection with the possibility that the pulp mill would be built in the southeastern corner of Estonia after a plan to build it not far from the city of Tartu failed due to public opposition.
The nonprofit found that forestry policy decisions that have significant impacts must be made in the process of drawing up the Forestry Development Plan 2030.
"Also, in Setomaa, the planned mill would negatively affect our forest resource and the basin of the Emajõgi River and Lake Peipus," the statement continued. "EMA is aware that many of the citizens who oppose the plant oppose it because of the plant's environmental impact, not just the specific location.
The Estonian state decided has decided to terminate the procedure for a national designated spatial plan for a pulp mill in Tartu County.
Editor: Aili Vahtla