Legal experts in environmental matters

Infrastructure planning

Large-scale infrastructure (e.g. roads, railroads, harbors) and industrial facilities (e. g. chemicals storage facilities, landfills) have significant environmental impacts on their surroundings. In order to reduce these impacts, it is crucial to choose them the best possible location. This can only be done if alternative locations on a large scale are compared and considered.

To this end, the Spatial Planning Act provides that in planning such objects their location must be chosen as the first step. Locations for so-called “line objects”, i.e. pipelines, power lines, roads and railroads must be chosen on the county level. For other objects with significant spatial impacts (listed in a Regulation of the Government of the Republic) their location can also be chosen within one municipality. This has lead to the practice where locations of objects with national or regional significance (e.g. liquefied natural gas(LNG) terminals, air defense radars) are decided by one of more than 200 municipalities, without considering alternative locations elsewhere.

EELC aims to change this practice. Our goal is to ensure that planning of all objects with significant spatial impacts (including so-called line objects) would be carried out in a transparent and open manner. All of their impacts must be thoroughly assessed and different alternatives carefully considered. To create this change, both legislation and its application practice must be altered.

EELC has been active in this issue since 2009. In 2010, inspired by our legal aid cases, we wrote a legal analysis on the procedure for developing of objects with significant spatial impacts and the need for change. Shortcomings in legal rules have been since then highlighted by the legal cases on Otepää air defense radar and Paldiski LNG terminal.

Advocacy activities

To change the current situation we have actively spoken out on the new Spatial Planning Act that came into force 1 July 2015.

In addition to this we have followed the development of planned high-speed rail link “Rail Baltic”:

NB! Above materials are unfortunately available only in Estonian. If you want a better insight into our advocacy goals, activities or successes in English then write us an e-mail at or give us a call at +372 742 4524.