TALLINN – The Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) found the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the Ulemiste-Kangru section of the railway project Rail Baltic to have met the requirements, recognition of the report as meeting the requirements will also allow the construction of the first section of the main railway line to begin soon.
The route section running from the Ulemiste terminal to the small town of Kangru is 15.8 kilometers long and the railway corridor runs there mainly between commercial and production areas and prospective built-up areas. There are no large forest areas or agricultural areas or land units in the region, neither are there any Natura 2000 areas within the area impacted by the railway, Rail Baltic Estonia OU said.
Environment manager for Rail Baltic Estonia OU, Roland Muur, said that based on the conclusions of the EIA, all possible significant environmental impacts are either avoided, mitigated to an insignificant degree or can be compensated for.
"When it comes to various measures, then in order to reduce railway noise, for example, various noise barrier solutions on nearly three kilometers will be built along the section -- wooden or metal noise barrier walls and soil embankments. In order to ensure the movement of animals, one ecoduct is planned for the section, as well as an underpass suitable for big game, 16 culverts and tunnels for small animals. In addition, green strips will be built along the edges of three viaducts crossing the railway," Muur said.
According to the company, the EIA report also sets important conditions for carrying out construction activities -- to protect birds, the forest along the route will be cut down outside the bird nesting season, and if necessary, time restrictions will also be applied to construction activities. In addition, according to the report, the water level and quality of wells in the affected area must be ensured during construction activities, and construction materials must be transported and stored in a way that minimizes the spread of dust.
The implementation of the measures and the effectiveness of the measures will be checked by mandatory monitoring during the entire construction period as well as during the future period of use of the railway.
Considering the large number of environmental measures and the complexity of the project, Rail Baltic Estonia is to prepare a corresponding environmental management plan for the management of environmental measures for each evaluated section, which includes both the environmental measures made mandatory when the permit was issued and the environmental measures set voluntarily by the developer. The plan is updated regularly, either once a year or more often, according to important developments of the project either by adding or specifying measures in accordance with changes in environmental information or the development of other improved knowledge.
The EIA of the Estonian part of Rail Baltic is carried out in parallel with the design of the main route. Important areas of influence that are evaluated during the EIA are wildlife, noise, energy use, cultural heritage, outdoor air, surface and groundwater, and so on.
The Estonian branch of RB Rail AS requested the initiation of the impact assessment at the beginning of 2019.