Tunnel project inches forward

Peter Vesterbacka, co-founder of FinEst Bay Area Development, attends a news conference on the Helsinki-Tallinn undersea railway tunnel in Helsinki, Finland December 3, 2018.

PHOTO: Lehtikuva / Reuters / Scanpix

The Estonian Ministry of Finance has received a request for a national designated spatial plan from FinEst Bay Area Development, a company working on a project to build an undersea tunnel between the capitals of Estonia and Finland, and will analyze whether a national designated spatial plan is a fit for the tunnel and whether its implementation is possible in the future.

The company led by Finnish marketer Peter Vesterbacka is seeking a national designated spatial plan for the planned railway tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki and a related artificial island. The request was submitted by law firm Sorainen on behalf of FinEst Bay Area OÜ. The government is to decide whether or not a national designated spatial plan will be initiated, the Estonian Ministry of Finance said.

Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi said the tunnel between Estonia and Finland is an important forward-looking project.

"We will acquaint ourselves with the application and start a procedure in accordance with the law. All circumstances relating to the submission need to be clarified, and then the government can decide whether to initiate a national designated spatial plan or not," Mäggi was quoted in a press release as saying.

The aim of a national designated spatial plan is to erect a construction work which has significant spatial impact and whose chosen location or whose functioning elicits significant national or international interest. The decision on initiating or refusing to initiate the preparation of the national designated spatial plan and the conduct of the strategic environmental assessment is taken within 90 days from receiving the application.

Prior to that, the Ministry of Finance must ascertaining if the planned construction is an object of a national designated spacial plan and if the future implementation of the envisaged plan is possible.

FinEst Bay Area OÜ announced on Friday that it filed a request with the Estonian Ministry of Finance for starting the procedure for a national designated spatial plan for the planned railway tunnel and an artificial island.

FinEst Bay Area Development is led by Peter Vesterbacka, who has expressed an intention to build a tunnel between the two cities by means of private sector funding. Under the name of FinEst Link, the project has also been probed by states as well as local governments and examinations of the project have been supported by the European Commission.

Paul Künnap, sworn advocate and partner at Sorainen, consultant to FinEst Bay Area OÜ in legal matters, told BNS on Monday that FinEst Link is one of FinEst Bay Area's four options for the route.

On Monday, FinEst Bay Area Development announced it has received a 100 million euro contribution from Dubai construction company ARJ Holding.

The developer also submitted a request to the Estonian Technical Regulatory Authority for the initiation of a procedure for the building permit for the tunnel and the artificial island.

The purpose of the initiation of the national designated spatial plan is to comprehensively solve the issues related to the railway tunnel both in the sea and on the ground. More precisely, the company wishes to find the most suitable location of the track of the tunnel in the economic zone, territorial waters and on land.