Industrial park plan in Augšdaugava foresees forest felling

It is planned to build an industrial park in the municipality of Augšdaugava – the Saeima has already given a conceptual agreement to this step. However, environmental representatives are concerned since this would mean felling a large area of trees, Latvian Radio reported August 2

In May, the Saeima conceptually supported a draft law that provides for the transfer of 256 hectares of the State forest land to the municipality of Augšdaugava for the creation of an industrial park.

Industrial, transport, logistics, energy supply, and other industries are expected to be located on this forest land. This would contribute to the economic development and competitiveness of the municipality and the region and give at least 100 new jobs, explained the draft law's developers.

The State forest area of 256 ha with a single cadastre number is located on both sides of the Daugavpils bypass to Riga in Līksna parish. Arvīds Kucins, president of the municipal council, said this was the optimal place to build it.

"If you look toward Rīga direction, the left side would be the production area – green production, which means using solar or wind energy. And on the other side, to the right from the railroad, where there is the largest area of land, there would be a wind park, some 4-6 wind turbines," said Kucins.

The idea of setting up an industrial park in this area of “Latvian State Forests” was raised in 2021. In Latvia, this is not the first precedent.

“In this way, the law has already been adopted regarding the transfer of land of the VAS Latvijas Valmiera city municipality to the property of Valmiera. These were more than 100 hectares handed over to Valmiera. An industrial park is being created there,” said the project raiser in the county of Augšdaugava, Vice-President of the City Council Vitālijs Aizbalts.

However, a letter calling not to support the draft law, which intends to promote the development of the Augšdaugava municipality “at the expense of a destroyed environment”, has been sent to the Saeima by the Latvian Society for Permaculture. Its leader, Ilze Mežniece, said:

"I could agree that we also need it and that it is an ideal place, but I cannot agree with the acceptance arrangements. Work on setting up the site of an industrial park has been carried out in a sloppy manner, and it must not be allowed that such a large area of forests is felled for industrial purposes without having to carry out certain procedures."

In the view of Mežniece, it is a dangerous situation , since Valmiera's transfer of land was carried out following the approval of the plan.

“If the transfer is now made before the approval of the plan, then this [will keep happening]  – if a local government wants forests for an industrial park that has no 100% investor, no financing, nothing but a forest, and is cutting off... It's the worst,” the head of the association said.

Aizbalts does not see a cause for concern since the municipality will also attract an expert on nature to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

“And only then will we start real jobs,” the council spokesman explained.

According to Aizbalts, it is inevitable that the park will be located there. "We have no other options in the municipality," he said.

Whether the opinion of the environmentalists will be taken into account when making a decision on the transfer of more than 250 hectares of forest areas for the creation of an industrial park in the Augšdaugava municipality will be seen in the autumn when the Saeima returns to work.

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