Negotiations over land along extended border strip proving difficult

Boundary post indicating the Estonian border.
Boundary post indicating the Estonian border. Source: (PPA)

In early 2018 it became clear that the strip of land along the Estonian-Russian border required for the planned modernisation and extension of the Police and Border Guard's infrastructure will have to be not 10, but 40 m wide. This makes it necessary for the state to acquire an additional 239 hectares of land—and negotiate with land owners, who are saying that the state is "greedy" and refusing to pay a fair price.

The border strip will have to be a full 30 m wider than initially announced, which means cutting farther into the property of land owners along the border. As this changes the situation entirely, locals are not amused, ERR's Aktuaalne kaamera newscast reported on Thursday.

Plenty of them aren't happy with the amount of money the state is happy to pay, and they also worry about the natural resources destroyed in the process. "I'm losing 40 m each of six properties. There's a beautiful forest, then there's reforestation, farmland, and one forest that's likely going to be cut down entirely," Helju Mikitalu, a local land owner, told ERR.

According to Egert Belitšev, in charge of the border maintenance department at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the money offered for the land is based on the market value with an added "motivational coefficient".

"What we can say is that so far the average market value has been 70 cents per square metre," Mr Belitšev told ERR. "At this point the negotiations with most of the land owners are still ongoing, and plenty of them haven't agreed yet to sell," he added.

Should it turn out to be impossible to reach an agreement, the state has the option of a compulsory purchase, which would mean expropriating the land the PPA needs while compensating owners for it at a price set by the authorities.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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