Construction of Ust-Luga - Baltiisk - Germany Ferry Link Will Not Harm Environment - 19 March, 2003

Construction of the Ust-Luga - Baltiisk - Germany ferry link does not present any threat to the environment. This conclusion was reached yesterday in Baltiisk by the participants in a meeting to evaluate the environmental effects of the project.

According to Rosbalt's correspondent, the environmental aspects of the planned Vostochny deep-water port and passenger and rail terminals were examined in line with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's (EBRD) procedures, which include strict requirements on environmental safety. No serious objections to the project were raised at the meeting. Nevertheless, a representative of the EBRD said that independent foreign experts would be invited to take part in the next stage of the environmental impact assessment. The experts will present their conclusions to the public at the next hearing.

The creation of a major new ferry port near Baltiisk is part of a federal targeted programme for the social and economic development of the Kaliningrad Region between 2002 and 2010. It is being financed by the EBRD and guaranteed by the Russian government. The cost of the project is estimated at USD 75 million. Completion of the project will allow part of the Russian freight that is currently shipped through Finnish and Latvian ports to be transported directly to this region. Using Finnish and Latvian ports costs Russia about USD 800 million.

The hearing in Baltiisk was attended by government officials and representatives of Russian and international environmental organisation and the local community.