Environmentalists take Nord Stream case to top Finnish court
Finnish and Estonian environmental groups have taken their case against the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Finland's Supreme Administrative Court after a lower court refused to hear their case, the court said Monday.
"I think the Supreme Administrative Court will have to take this case, there is no legal reason for them not to," court spokesman Teuvo Arolainen told AFP.
The case has some urgency to it, as Nord Stream has already begun demolition work on the sea bed for the pipeline, which is designed to carry up to 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas per year to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
The Supreme Administrative Court usually takes nine or ten months to hear cases.
"Of course in this case, the plaintiffs can ask for an expedited process, but it's unlikely a decision will come this year," Arolainen said.
In September, a regional administrative court rejected lawsuits filed by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (SLL), Finland's largest environmental organisation, and three Estonian environmental groups to overturn Nord Stream's permit to build the pipeline.
The regional court acknowledged the environmental risks of the venture but rejected plaintiff claims that the environmental impact studies were insufficient regarding fish, seals and the existence of toxic barrels on the sea bed.
Nord Stream was granted a permit in February 2010 to construct the gas pipeline in Finland's waters. The company already has approval from every other country through which the pipeline will pass.
The 7.4-billion-euro (10.1-billion-dollar) project to build the 1,220-kilometre (760-mile) pipeline to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany is led by Russian state-run energy giant Gazprom in partnership with Germany's E.On Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall.
It will link the Russian city of Vyborg and Greifswald in Germany, running under the Baltic Sea and passing through Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and German waters.
Some 375 kilometres of pipeline are expected to go through the Finnish economic zone. A quarter of the gas consumed in the European Union comes from Russia.
© 2010 AFP