Environment Ministry stops Rīga spatial plan

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The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) has assessed the new territorial plan of the Rīga city developed by the Riga City Council and identified significant shortcomings, so Minister Artūrs Toms Plešs has issued an order to suspend these plans, VARAM said March 23.

VARAM said that the shortcomings include both non-compliance with the law and a lack of proportionality between the interests of the parties concerned.

Two mutually uncoordinated spatial plans are in force at the same time in the administrative territory of Riga, which is in contradiction with the law. According to the vision of the Riga City Council, a more than 16-year-old plan would remain in force for the historic center, as amended once in 2013, which has not been further adapted to the requirements of the latest regulatory enactments.

The Ministry also noted that its experts have identified significant deficiencies in the territory of Riga Free Port in Spilve, in the area between Hapaka ditch and Daugavgrīvas Street, which would impede the development of the economy.  The Ministry of Economy and Transport also objected to the plan.

Similarly, the permitted noise level has been reduced in several places, but not accompanied by a reasonable set of measures to allow it to be implemented. There are also issues with the locations of gambling halls: the Rīga City Council document provides that gambling halls are banned throughout Rīga, which is currently illegal to do. 

The Ministry explained that the purpose of the spatial plan is to ensure both economic development and the implementation of social and cultural interests, as well as environmental protection. Coordination of interests is particularly important in determining the authorized use of the territory.

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