Studies regarding the planned pulp mill to be built by Est-For Invest may also be approved by the City of Pärnu as well as Häädemeeste Municipality, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports.
As the Supreme Court of Estonia ruled on 11 October that, if desired, Est-For Invest may expand the location of the pulp mill in the framework of the current spatial plan or move it to Pärnu County or Southeast Estonia, the company has begun actively seeking local governments in those regions who would be willing to decide over allowing studies to be carried out on their territories.
"We have communicated with four municipalities thus far — Saarde Municipality in Pärnu County and Võru, Räpina and Setomaa Municipalities in Southeast Estonia," Est-For Invest board member Margus Kohava told EPL. "Our wish to carry out studies is serious in all rural municipalities that we have sent a proposition to and asked for the opportunity to analyze the possibility of establishing a pulp mill.
However, Saarde Municipality is thus far the only one to have granted its consent for studies necessary for the establishment of the pulp mill to be carried out on its territory. At that, Saarde Municipal Council in its resolution on 17 October said that according to the Planning Act, the plan must also be approved also by its neighbours, ie Häädemeeste Municipality and the City of Pärnu. Both municipalities have convened a council meeting in the near future to discuss the topic.
Karel Tolp, municipal mayor of Häädemeeste, said that the topic has already been discussed at a municipal government meeting, where a stance was adopted that studies should be allowed. The issue will be discussed in the council on Thursday.
"It is very easy to say establish, but not in my yard or in the vicinity of it," Tolp said, noting that he personally would be in favour of the mill if it was justified enough. "But studies must be carried out first, and their results will show if and to what extent wood refining can be carried out in this region."
In the city of Pärnu, where the topic will be discussed at an extraordinary council meeting to convene next Thursday, the attitude toward the studies is favourable, at least on the mayor's level.
"The county, which in all kinds of its development documents has declared that one of the main key sectors in Pärnu County is the wood industry, should not ad hoc assume the stance that launching these kinds of studies is not allowed — or unacceptable to some local government," Pärnu Mayor Romek Kosenkranius said.
Est-For hoping to still find location for plant
Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi (Centre) last Friday extended the deadline for responding to the draft government decision on the termination of the procedure for a national designated spatial plan for a large pulp mill to be built by Est-For Invest.
In its application for the postponement of the deadline, Est-For cites ongoing consultations with Räpina, Võru, Setomaa and Saarde Municipalities, the results of which may significantly impact the opinion to be expressed concerning the draft regulation.
The industrialists are not ruling out that the list of municipalities potentially interested in the pulp mill could become longer.
The new deadline for responding also applies to the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, to which the Finance Ministry has forwarded the draft regulation for endorsement, as well as Viljandi, Tartu, Elva, Kambja, Kastre, Luunja and Peipsiääre Municipalities and the city of Tartu, from whom an opinion on the draft regulation is awaited.
The original deadline for submitting opinions was 13 October.
Following protests by local residents and opposition from Tartu City Council and Tartu city government, the Estonian government decided in June to initiate the termination of the procedure for the preparation of the national designated spatial plan for the establishment of a €1 billion pulp mill that had been launched in spring 2017.
Est-For has said that their mill would process about 3.3 million tonnes of paperwood and produce up to 750,000 tonnes of output per year, and would export its output.
Editor: Aili Vahtla