Prime Minister Jüri Ratas replied to the interpellation concerning the initiation of a national designated spatial plan to establish a biorefinery and to construct the infrastructure necessary for the functioning thereof (No. 422), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Artur Talvik, Krista Aru, Külliki Kübarsepp, Andres Herkel, Andres Ammas, Ain Lutsepp and Monika Haukanõmm on 7 March.
The interpellators referred to the order of the Government of 12 May 2017 by which a national designated spatial plan to establish a biorefinery and to construct the infrastructure necessary for the functioning thereof, and a strategic environmental assessment, had been initiated.
The interpellators wished to know the actual purpose of the designated spatial plan provided for in § 27 of the Planning Act, and how big public interest and what technical circumstances could be used as arguments when a company applied for a designated spatial plan from the Government. How is the right of local governments to have their say with regard to designated spatial plans ensured, and does the relevant provision not restrict the decision-making right of the local level?
The Prime Minister said that a designated spatial plan was prepared to plan a construction work which had a significant spatial impact and whose chosen location or whose functioning elicited significant national or international interest. “This means that the construction work must be necessary for the functioning of the state, contribute to the fulfilment of the strategic objectives of the state, for example, a railway, a high voltage power line, an international aerodrome, etc., or the construction work must have so significant spatial impact that its location may significantly impact various fields of national importance, or the wider public, possibly the whole country, must be interested in the choice of the location of the construction work,” Ratas explained.
The Prime Minister said that, upon initiation of or refusing to initiate a national designated spatial plan, the Government had to consider whether there was national or international interest in the activity or its location. “According to the Planning Act, the local government must be involved – I emphasise, involved – in all stages of the preparation of a designated spatial plan,” Ratas noted. A spatial plan expressing national interests must be guided by the national interests, taking into account local needs and interests where this is possible. Thus a theoretical situation in which for example the positions presented by the local government would not be taken into account unjustifiably would not be in compliance with the Planning Act.
Ratas emphasised that the research and the environmental impacts assessment planned would give an overview of the risks related to the establishment of a biorefinery. For cases where the prescribed cuts begin to exceed the increment of the forests managed, a mechanism has been established in the Forest Act under which the Government has the right to impose restrictions on the size of a regeneration cutting area to ensure the natural balance of the forest. This can be done in the case when there are justified grounds to presume that the prescribed cut may exceed the increment of the forest managed.
The Prime Minister admitted that, according to the water management plan for 2015–2021 for Eastern Estonian basin, the condition of the River Emajõgi and Lake Peipus had been assessed as bad. “Therefore it must first be studied what level of cleaning would be needed to ensure that the condition of the River Emajõgi and Lake Peipus would not worsen, and the objectives provided in the water management plan would also be achieved. Only thereafter can we analyse if the proposed technology can be applied in the region in question,” Ratas said.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the Government had not made a decision on the establishment of a biorefinery.
Ratas also replied to the interpellation concerning putting legal continuity in doubt, and Russianization (No. 423).
The Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva replied to the interpellation concerning the provision of general care service outside home (No. 419).
Member of the Riigikogu Enn Meri and the Auditor General Janar Holm took their oaths of office.
The sitting ended at 6.50 p.m.
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