COBALT represented a client in the Supreme Court of Estonia regarding the cancellation of permits granted for the establishment of a peat mine

2023 - 05 - 30

COBALT successfully represented our client, a property owner, in the Supreme Court, where the permits granted for the establishment of a peat extraction operation in Viljandi Couty were cancelled.

The permits granted for the extraction of peat were canceled because the owner of the neighboring property was left out of the permit proceedings, which could have led to material errors in the granting of permits.

Permits for peat extraction were already granted in 2004. The reason why this dispute was held now was because our client as a neighbor of an adjacent property, was not included in the permit procedure, and only found out about the existence of such permits in 2020, when the preparations for extraction began.

The Supreme Court pointed out that if an individual affected by an environmental permit is not involved in time in the administrative proceedings, the permit can be challenged even years later, and the person who received the permit cannot rely on their legitimate expectation. Secondly, the Supreme Court emphasized that asking the opinion of affected individuals is important in environmental matters. In most cases where their right to participate is violated, the corresponding decisions must be annulled. As for the contentious issues, the court emphasized that the purpose of the environmental impact assessment is to find and prevent environmental impacts (e.g., noise and dust), even if the extent of the impacts is projected to fall below statutory limit values. If the impact assessment proposes the possibility of reducing the impacts with certain methods or techniques, the permit grantor may only take them into account when granting the permit if the corresponding measures are established as legally binding additional conditions (in this case, the other party also relied on such possible mitigation measures that were not established in the permit).

Our client was advised by Senior Associate Siim Vahtrus.

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