Nearly a thousand Tabivere residents in pulp mill protest

Nearly 1,000 people came out in protest against the proposed new pulp mill, in the south Estonian village of Tabivere.

Tabivere, a little over 20km north of the second Estonian city, Tartu, has been mooted as an alternative location to Tartu itself in the wake of strong public and poiltical objections to the plans.

''Tabivere-based ERR journalist Heleri Alli recounted to current affairs show 'Aktuaalne Kamera' that many protesters had taken placards with slogans such as 'no to factories, yes to nature'.

A human chain of opponents to the mill, stretching nearly a kilometre, soon built up.

''The prospect of a cellulose plant is for me something of a nightmare,'' said protest participant Kristo.

''It's reminiscent of Russian roulette, except with all the cartridges loaded blasting away at nature,'' he went on.

Another protester, Maria, agreed: ''This thing is so messed up,'' she said.

''There's so much about it we've yet to find out – how many employees will be working here, how much pollution will there be, why is it just nine kilometres from the Emajõgi river etc.'' she went on.

''The output of this mill won't benefit Estonia, but will be exported,'' added another protester, Eve. ''I'm here because I hope reason will prevail and a compromise solution can be found,'' she said.

Government needs to decide on plan's future

According to Est-Fori, the investors behind the proposed plant, the ball is now in the Government's court. Pro Patria (formerly IRL) and the Social Democrats (SDE) have already voiced their opposition to the plans.

Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi, who listened to the concerns voiced by local residents yesterday evening, has said that a variety of options are still on the table.

''The main question is whether it has been made clear today that the plant cannot be built here,'' he said, referring to the Tabivere site.

''If this is the case then it's going to be very complicated for the Government to continue down that route. It's a question of costs and benefits analysis at the end of the day,'' he added.

Latest in litany of protests

Criticisms of the proposed mill have been heard ever since the plans were announced at the beginning of the year, Est-For board members Aadu Polli and Margus Kohava told 'Aktuaalne Kamera'.

Based on preliminary analyses, Tartu and Viljandi counties were selected as the most viable locations for the mill and the national planning initiative started in May along those lines.

The announcement in turn met with strong local opposition, including street protests of thousands of people in Tartu in May, and opinions from political, academic and civic society.

In March this year, Tartu City Council was required to draw up a national designated spatial plan together with surrounding municipalities.

At the beginning of June Polli and Kohava started looking at concrete sites where a mill could be constructed, figuring that the Tabivere site would minimise disruption.

The status of the designated plan has caused splits in the coalition Government – for instance Mäggi himself has said that its progress can't be halted overnight – with a meeting taking place on Thursday to decide on the plan's future.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: ERR Uudised

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