The Administrative Court of Tartu (Tartu Halduskohus) has admitted the petition filed by Fridays for Future Estonia for the revocation of the building permit issued by Narva-Jõesuu municipality in connection with the construction of the ENEFIT282 shale oil plant. The court did not grant preliminary judicial protection.
“The court's decision to admit the petition is of historical significance. The climate is still changing and these legal proceedings will bring clarity to debate as to whether or not the construction of this oil shale plant will allow Estonia to meet its climate goals or not. As well as what decisions, if any, can be challenged in Estonia on the grounds of climate change," states Kertu Birgit Anton, FFF Estonia's spokesperson.
Activists have also spoken out against the shale oil plant repeatedly – both by meeting directly with the prime minister and by written appeals to the government in collaboration with other youth groups. Unfortunately, the young activists have not been listened to. Hando Sutter, chairman of the board of Eesti Energia, an international energy company owned by the Estonian state, has said that the utility of the shale oil plant will be decided on by the future generations and that a public debate is necessary. "Now this presents us with an opportunity to publicly discuss the feasibility of this project, taking climate goals into consideration. We know that going to court against a large public company is going to be neither cheap nor easy, but since previous methods to secure a habitable planet for future generations have not been effective, we decided to take legal action," Anton added.
The request for preliminary judicial protection was dismissed by the court. The aim of the request was to ensure that construction activity was suspended for the duration of the proceedings. The court clarified that if the proceedings do not conclude by the time of the plant's scheduled start of operations in 2024, the applicant has the right to seek judicial protection again. FFF Eesti has decided to appeal the motion to Tartu Disctrict Court (Tartu Ringkonnakohus).
The court will include the LLCs Enefit Energiatootmine and Enefit Kaevandused, as well as the Ministry of the Environment, in the proceedings. Volunteer activists will cover any legal costs from donations. Those wishing to support FFF Eesti with a donation can find more information on the community website: https://www.fridaysforfuture.ee/toeta-meid
By Order No. 157 of 27.03.2020, the municipality of Narva-Jõesuu granted a construction permit to Enefit Energiatootmine AS and Enefit Kaevandused AS for the construction of the ENEFIT282 shale oil plant on the central territory property located in the village of Auvere in Narva-Jõesuu. On April 26, Fridays for Future Estonia, a non-governmental association of young climate activists, filed a petition with the administrative court of Tartu for the revocation of the building permit and to seek preliminary legal protection. On May 25, the court issued an order by which the petition will be admitted for proceedings.
Fridays for Future Estonia is the Estonian branch of a global youth movement which aims to pressure governments to act to restore a habitable environment and alleviate the climate crisis. The official applicant, MTÜ Loodusvõlu, is a non-profit organisation founded in 2019 by members of Fridays for Future Estonia.