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Consultations with Finland about an additional gas pipeline to be built in the Baltic Sea

2017-11-22

Yesterday, consultations were held in Helsinki between the Lithuanian and Finnish concerned institutions over an additional gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2) to be built through the Baltic Sea pursuant to the provisions of the so-called Espoo Convention (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context).

This consultative meeting was organised on the initiative of the Ministry of Environment, the coordinator of the environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context acting in compliance with the authorisations granted by the Government. The Lithuanian delegation consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as from the Embassy of our country in Finland.

According to the head of the delegation, Irmantas Valūnas, Director of the Water Department of the Ministry of Environment, the form of a meeting was chosen for consultations in order to hold an open and detailed discussion about the implementation and transboundary impact of the Nord Stream 2 projects which is controversial in terms of EU’s energy security.

During the meeting, the Finnish representatives presented the process of environmental impact assessment of the planned gas pipeline development and its role in the system of issuance of the permits to build a gas pipeline. Upon completion of the required procedures, it is planned that the decisions to issue permits should be adopted next spring.

This assessment process has been implemented since 2013. In July this year, Lithuania submitted to Finland its position and comments regarding the concerns of our state, research institutions and the public related to this project. Finland’s replies were received in September, and then it was requested for additional bilateral consultations to discuss them.

As under the Espoo Convention any matters related to the alternatives of planned activities may be discussed during consultations, the possibility of not implementing the project was addressed as well.

The participants of the meeting paid a lot of attention to the common problems related to the implementation of the Nord Stream pipeline development project and discussed its contradictions with EU energy and climate policy and its economic unfeasibility as well as the consequences of redundant infrastructure in the European Union.

Lithuanian environmentalists were interested in the completed assessment of genotoxic impact: dissemination calculations for pollutants, credibility of their results, having regard to the potential uncertainty of data on sites affected by military munitions, and the aggregate impact together with other pollution sources of the Baltic Sea.

As there are the areas of the European ecological network Natura 2000 in the Finnish waters which are sensitive to intervention work in the Baltic Sea, it was discussed that the impact of the pipeline development on these areas should be further analysed and the possibilities of getting access to the conclusions by the Finnish institutions about the results of the additional assessment should be explored. Furthermore, compensatory measures for the planned adverse environmental effects, drafting of emergency preparedness plans and their coordination between the Baltic States were discussed as well.

The plans are to further continue the constructive discussion on the environmental impact assessment of the Nord Stream 2 project and its implementation.

Public Relations Division
22 November 2017


Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas