Estonian minister: Not realistic for tunnel to Helsinki to be completed by 2024

  • 2019-07-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonia's Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab has described the wish of Finnish businessman Peter Vesterbacka to complete an undersea railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn by the end of 2024 as not realistic, the news portal of public broadcaster ERR reported on Tuesday.

Aab told ERR that while the first underlying data for making the decision about the initiation of a designated spatial plan necessary for building the tunnel has been gathered, there are several doubts left in the air, first and foremost when it comes to financing and environmental impacts.

According to Aab, most of the Estonian ministries concerned have familiarized themselves with the documents provided by Vesterbacka's company Finest Bay Area Development and offered their assessments of the developer's plans.

"It appears from the letters of some ministries that they wish to get additional data from the developer. When all the letters have arrived, we will be able to decide on whether we ask for additional data or the discussion will move on to the Cabinet, to see if all the prerequisites for initiating a designated spatial plan have been met. At present, no specific decision has been made," Aab said.

"It doesn't seem particularly realistic, let me be honest, because the procedure of a designated spatial plan in itself is very long. According to estimates, also the designing, construction seem to take longer than Peter Vesterbacka has claimed," Aab said in his response to a question about his opinion concerning the end-2024 target named by Vesterbacka.

Since building a railway tunnel between Estonia and Finland is an international project with a big environmental impact, there is no other option for doing it under Estonian law than through the adoption of a designated spatial plan, Aab said. In Finland a project like this doesn't require a designated spatial plan.

Vesterbacka, the figurehead of an initiative to build an undersea railway tunnel between the capitals of Estonia and Finland, is about to sign a letter of intent with Chinese construction giant CREC this week, the news portal of ERR reported citing Finnish broadcaster Yle.

According to Finest Bay Area Development, construction work would take six years and involve 20,000 people every year.