Estonia's 1st tier court rules against Vesterbacka's Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel project

  • 2022-10-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - In a legal dispute between Finnish businessman Peter Vesterbacka and Estonian public agencies blocking his initiative to build an undersea tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn, the administrative court, too, decided to rule against the project on Wednesday.

Vesterbacka's idea for the tunnel was turned down by the Estonian government last year. While previously, the government had decided not to initiate a national designated spatial plan for the tunnel, last year, Taavi Aas, minister of economic affairs and infrastructure at the time, said that such a project could only be implemented by the state because as a private project, the endeavor would entail a number of risks.

"This doesn't mean the private sector couldn't be included in some way but the management should be done by states," Aas told public broadcaster ERR last spring.

Vesterbacka turned to the court in a bid to be able to start assessing the environmental impact of the project independently. On Wednesday, the administrative court decided that he will not be able to do so.

Vesterbacka's company Finest Bay Area Development Estonia OU lodged a complaint against the Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority claiming that the latter had incorrectly refused to grant the company a permission it was seeking. In August 2021, the agency sent a letter to Vesterbacka's company announcing its refusal to launch an environmental impact assessment. The project concerned building an undersea railway tunnel and artificial island in the Gulf of Finland.

The administrative court did not grant the company's complaint, saying that a national designated spatial plan would had been a prerequisite for starting the project, however, no such plan has been compiled.

The parties can appeal the ruling in the Tallinn Circuit Court on Nov. 18 at the latest.

Vesterbacka proposed the idea of an undersea tunnel connecting Tallinn and Helsinki at the end of the previous decade. The businessman said that he would have found investors for the project from China.