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Estonia’s Tartu rejects investment project worth €1 billion

The Tartu City Council has ruled to cancel construction of a €1 billion high-tech pulp manufacturing plant, a project initiated by the government last May, err.ee reported.

The statement passed by the parliamentarians says the plans to erect the plant run contrary to the documents on development of the Tartu district and city as well as to the investments already made under these documents, according to Radio 4 news service. Besides, the City Council statement says the government’s initiative violates the Constitution’s provisions related the autonomy of the local self-government. The Tartu parliamentarians adopted the decision following a 7-hour discussion. Earlier, over 8,000 signatures against the plant’s construction were submitted to the City Council.

The Cabinet of Ministers aired discontent at the decision. Prime Minister of Estonia Juri Ratas said the Government was ready to make concessions to Tartu authorities. Besides, he said, no one was going to build anything damaging the environment, Sputnik Estonia reported. Earlier, the parliamentary opposition expressed their categorical disagreement with the construction plans. Leaders of Estonian Conservative People’s Party Mart Helme said the project in its current form implies construction of the pulp manufacturing plant near the student capital of Estonia – Tartu, the city developing tourism and having cultural and historical heritage. Besides, he said, the plant could be built upstream the Emajõgi River crossing Tartu and the waters could be contaminated by harmful waste.

At the same time, many representatives of the opposition and the ruling parties in Estonia believe that construction of the €1 billion high-tech pulp manufacturing plant could help developing national economy and modernizing wood processing industry. Investors planned to put the plant into operation by 2022. It was anticipated that reaching the designed capacity, the plant would increase total export of Estonia by €250-300 million. Businessperson and expert Raivo Vare says it would be the investment of the century for Estonia. Meantime, political writer Boris Grigoryev believes that commissioning of the industrial giant would increase felling scales manifold and the political parties seeking revenues and sponsorships would turn a blind eye on that environmental damage.

Estonian Greens Party says that plant design is not accessible and its potential impact on the environment is not known. Normally, the Greens are sure that felling in the country should be reduced as it exceeds increment. On April 3, 2017, Helping Estonia’s Forests (EMA) civil association submitted a request to the parliament and appropriate ministries for wider discussion of the project with experts.

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