19. Juni 2006


The government of Russia and St.-Petersburg authorities have launched two unprecedentedly ambitious and highly dangerous projects on the shore of the Baltic sea.

The project of the Seaport Terminal in the western part of the city includes inwashing of 450 hectares for the port itself and apartment blocks and buisiness buildings as well. According to the plan, three berths for cruise vessels more than 300 m in length will be built already by 2008. Experts believe that the inwashing of huge territory will harm the ecosystem of the region. As a result of the construction works the water will be roiled with the polluted subsoil from the seabed, which can destroy the habitat of the sea species. The subsoil will also wash towards the mouth of the Neva river and alter it's streamway. This will reduce the flow of fresh water into the Finnish Gulf and lead to further changes in ecosystem.

The second related project is the Western Speed Diameter - an 8-lane tall highway which will cross the Finnish Gulf area from south to the north to connect the sea port with Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

In the northern part of the city the highway will go along the border
of the Yuntolovskiy nature reserve and cross the forest witch serves as it's buffer zone. The wetlands of the Yuntolovskij reserve provide a resting site for migratory birds flying from Arctic region to Western Europe and Scandinavia. 13 of the bird species are listed in the Red Data Book of the Baltic Region.

According to independent experts, noise and pollution from the highway will destroy the habitat of migratory birds and threaten biodiversity of the Baltic region. This violates international conventions, as:
- Rio de Janeiro convention of biological diversity (articles 8c, 8e);
- Helsinki convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (article 15).
Also as the highway is going to pass through lowlands it would be necessary to drain the territory before construction. The draining will change the hydrosystem of the Lahta region which makes up an important part of the Finnish Gulf. The situation can become even worse as the city governer has recently announced about a plan to build Nissan plant close to the Yuntolovskij reserve. According to the statement, the streamway of the Chernaya river which flows to the Lahta bay will be changed in order to build the industrial area.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION More than 27 000 residents have signed against the sea terminal and Western High Speed Diameter but still the city government does not respond to the protests.

The city authorities do not provide people with information about the projects. So far numerous requests for environmental assessment documents remain unanswered. The public hearings of the projects were held formally and the residents were not properly informed about them.

Also, in violation of the Helsinki convention (article 7.1) and Espoo
convention on environmental impact assessment in transboundary context, the Baltic countries were not notified about the proposed activity.

As far as we were not able to receive the information on environmental impact of the projects we are urged to address you for help.
Please send requests for environmental information in accordance with international conventions (Espoo convention, Article 3.7). We will also be grateful if you take part in consultations on these projects (Espoo convention, article 5) and in public environmental expertise.

Note: it is important to take action as soon as possible as the implementation of the projects has already started.

THE STATE OF THE PROJECTS The planning decision on the Passenger Seaport Terminal and Western High Speed Diameter was included into the General plan of the city development accepted in 2005. The project of the Passenger Seaport Terminal was approved on March 30 by Glavgosekspertiza (russian regulatory authority).

The project of Western High Speed Diameter is divided into three parts which undergo all the procedures separately. The southern part of the highway has passed the environmental impact expertise and the construction works are already started. The central part has passed the expertise though it is supposed to be built last. The project of the northern part is not yet ready.

http://www.mfspb.ru/en/ - learn more about the Seaport Passenger Terminal (in English) http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=296908 - the Seaport Passenger Terminal and Western High Speed Diameter on the map of St.-Petersburg (in English) http://www.ecosafe.pu.ru/RB/Yuntolov/yuonEC.htmlYuntolovskiy reserve: Site identification under EC_Nature 2000-CorineInfBiotopes (in English) Public organization "Save Yuntolovo" http://sos-yuntolovo.spb.ru

Contact us:
Public organization "Save Yuntolovo" http://sos-yuntolovo.spb.ru
Tatyana Skrodenis arttri@detisite.ru
Vera Ponomareva
+7 812 343 82 16

10. Juni 2006

Concern about new NGO-legislation in the CBSS countries

Statement from Baltic Sea NGO Forum to the 6th Baltic Sea States Summit in Reykjavik 8th June 2006

Concern about new NGO-legislation in the CBSS countries. We, the members of the Consultative Committee for the Baltic Sea NGO Forum, wish to express our deep concern about the new legislation for the NGO-sector, both in the EU-member states and in Russia, legislation brought forward under the cover of "fight against terrorism", after the event of September 11th 2001.
Free and independent NGOs are a very important part of the civic society, and have a very decisive role in a democratic society, both as “watchdogs” and initiators of the political process. If they are hampered in their work by government control in form of compulsory registration, compulsory delivery of membership lists and financial control, it will have a very detrimental effect on our democratic society and political development.
Moreover, this control legislation will, in our opinion, not be an effective instrument in the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, a dynamic civic society, and independent NGOs can be an important contributor in our common fights against terrorism.
In Russia the new NGO-legislation will hamper the cooperation of the civic society in the political process, and will prevent the very important international cooperation between NGOs. In this legislation, Russia indicates that it has been inspired by the EU-proposals, and this may hamper the EU-countries from complaining to Russia over this restriction in democracy.
We, the members of the Consultative Committee for the Baltic Sea NGO Forum, therefore request the 6th Baltic Sea States Summit to: - keep a close watch over the NGO-legislation in the membership countries in order to respect the freedom of associations, - work for a close cooperation between CBSS and the NGOs in the CBSS member states, - include a clear statement in the EU-Northern Dimension of the importance of the cooperation between government and civic society, - work towards a simplification of the visa-rules in connection with NGO-arrangements.

The Baltic Sea NGO FORUM is a NGO-network with partners in all CBSS-countries. More information is available at
www.cbss-ngo.de - German platform of the Baltic Sea NGO Network
http://www.cbss-ngo-pl.org - NGO FORUM 2005 in Gdynia / Poland
BALTIC SEA NGO FORUM 2006 in Stockholm / Sweden