Est-For puts pulp mill project on hold

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Selline oleks pidanud hakkama välja nägema Emajõe äärde kavandatud tselluloositehas.

PHOTO: Est-for Invest/biorefinery.ee

Est-For Invest, the company that has been planning to establish a new large pulp mill in Estonia, said on Thursday that following the decision of the government to terminate the national designated spatial plan for the pulp mill they will discontinue the development project in Estonia.

Est-For Invest board member Margus Kohava said that the company is putting the project on hold to wait for an improvement in investment climate.

"Cheap export of valuable raw material must end sooner or later. Paperwood and wood chips that are exported from Estonia must be added value to here. An investor needs a clear and solid investment environment, work and legal peace. The execution of modern capital-intensive industrial projects requires a research-based and fact-based government culture. We will shelve this project until that time comes," Kohava said in a press release.

According to Kohava, a national designated spatial plan has been approved as the appropritate planning procedure by three tiers of court. He said that in its decision from Oct. 11, 2018, the Supreme Court unambiguously found that the initially designated planning area does not limit the selection of the location to the said area and that if necessary altering the planning area must be favored to find a more suitable location should relevant information appear and proposals be made. 

The cabinet decided on Thursday to terminate the procedure for a national designated spatial plan for the establishment of a large pulp mill by Est-For Invest.

"We decided to maintain our position and terminate the national designated spatial plan," Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said at the government press conference.

The premier added that the company may move forward with the topic and investors have the possibility to start with preparations for establishing the plant in another region of Estonia. He described it as very important for any endeavor to explore the possibilities for setting up the plant in a specific area to have the support of the local community.

Minister of State Administration Janek Mäggi observed that the interest of the state to develop the economy, including by establishing plants that use local raw materials, has not disappeared. Yet for it to materialize, a manner suitable for the local community and all of society has to be found.

"The termination of the national designated spatial plan does not close the door on businesses as they can choose a different kind of planning procedure for the establishment of the plant, such as a local government designated spatial plan. Without interest on the part of local residents and the local government, such a large scale plant cannot and must not be established in Estonia. The main keyword is cooperation without which it is not possible to achieve peace of work or legal peace," the minister said.

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