Rail transport and building railways is usually considered environmentally beneficial activity and under this flag the Baltic states have started developing a new railway called Rail Baltic (RB). In the beginning it seemed another green idea, but now, the planned alternative for RB is far from being an environmentally‐friendly project. Neither socio‐economically sustainable.
- It’s now planned to go through environmentally sensitive areas, although other alternative routes are possible, as well as renovating the existing routes. These alternatives are not even discussed. Due to tight time schedule, proper evaluation has not been possible and environmentally better alternatives are abandoned. Official studies have found that renovating existing railways would be much less environmentally harmful but even such studies are ignored.
- We demand to comply with regulations of the Helsinki Convention, national value, cultural and archaeological object identification and preservation of cultural heritage.
- Efforts to build a brand new railway will substantially diminish renovation and electrification of existing railways.
- Cost benefit analysis has many basic calculation errors (yes, it seems impossible, but this is a fact, even admitted by the government officials) of large scale that makes prognosis unreliable. A new railway is largely designed to replace sea transport as most of planned railway is along seashore. Sea transport has much lower CO2 footprint and is better to environment, it is more cost‐effective as well so the replacement of sea transport with new railway route is not realistic economically either.
Total cost of the Rail Baltica, according to estimation, is 5 billion euros. 4 billion of total is expected to come from Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Remaining 1 billion would be shared between the Baltic countries. Considering GDP of the Baltic states this is more than tenfold the investment of the Eurotunnel for UK and France. There is no official government guarantee for this amount permanence.
Help our communities, our people, our environment to stand for a just, argumented, research‐based, democratic decision making processes. Help the people of all three Baltic States! Petition against the signing of the Rail Baltic Agreement on January 31, 2017, by the Prime Ministers of The Baltic States
Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia Jüri Ratas
Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Māris Kučinskis
Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis
A good connection in and between the Baltic States, as well as between Europe is our common goal, which could be achieved by a new railway, with European dimensions. Unfortunately, the railway is now planned and prepared in a manner, which leads us towards separation instead of connection. Important studies contain mistakes, are based on old data and unrealistic conditions and prognosis. The intentions and plans are not discussed with the public, argumented dialogue with opinion leaders, scholars and researchers is being constantly ignored.
We, members of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens’ movements and the people of three Baltic States express our protest concerning to lack of accepted mandate from Baltic State residents about our future regarding the plans to sign the Rail Baltic Agreement. The signing is being prepared in unprecedented haste, yet brings along irrevocable consequences to our communities and environment since it will be a precondition for final implementation of the Rail Baltic project.
"The Rail Baltic Agreement is necessary for writing down obligations of the countries for establishing the railway connection in a legally binding document". The Agreement is therefore the prerequisite for starting the construction works of the Rail Baltic railway connection.
At the same time, the public is lacking sufficient information about the economic considerations of the proposed alternative of the RB project, as well as about financial sustainability. Environmental concerns grow by days as more and more engineers, architects, scientists and researchers point to the questionable studies and proposed solutions of the planned, new Tallinn‐Pärnu railway route in Estonia and other Rail Baltica route sections , although there are other, cheaper and less destructive alternatives.
The government's’ aim to make a decision which will have an enormous effect on local, national, trans‐Baltic communities and environment. Such a decision is lacking democratic grounds and it is in deep conflict with the Århus convention that all Baltic States must follow when discussing and planning projects of such magnitude. The informing, involvement and inclusion of the public are mandatory in the RB case but are not taking place now.
Therefore, we, the signatories of the present petition demand that:
- The citizens of the Baltic States must have the right and possibility to get access to the results of RB feasibility studies, analyzes of socio‐economic and ecological factors, documentation related to the agreements with Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), government decisions and protocols as well as independent auditing reports (e.g made by the State Auditor).
- The decision‐makers should not make decisions before the public has had appropriate time to get sufficiently informed to get introduced to the real effects of the planned decisions and also to the comparison of alternative railway routes. The public opinion must be respected.
As citizens of the Baltic States we want to know who will in person bear legal liability, moral obligation and political responsibility for the decision to build a specific RB route on the territory of Baltic States as well as who will be responsible for the impact this alternative will have on our environment, on the future of our next generations. We are convinced and stand firmly behind the belief that making such important decisions without public debate is not acceptable, especially when it is not possible to identify the people responsible for consequences. It is not acceptable that in our democratic countries decisions are made by the government without listening and considering the voice of reason and the people.
The signing of the agreement between the Baltic States must be postponed until we, the people of the Baltic States, have the possibility to know what lies in the documents (including the classified ones) that bring responsibilities and grave consequences to our future generations.
We wish to have an open, argumented and real discussion where representatives of the public, citizens’ movements and communities are included in a manner, stipulated also in the Århus convention, among others.
EcoEstonia ‐ network
Citizen movement Openly about Rail Baltic
Association “Latvijas zeme, daba, tauta” (Land, nature and people of Latvia)
Lithuanian Landowners Union, Pasvalys branch
Lithuanian Fund for Nature
Help the people of the Baltic States to stand for their communities and environment!
A request for estonian citizens ‐ please sign the petition with an ID‐card here ‐> http://goo.gl/xRkfVz