Press release
2018-01-09

GigaVaasa-factory planning reaches milestone - Environmental impact assessment programme is complete; green light for planning for factory areas as large as 200 Ha.

Land use preparation for substantial battery factory establishments in the wider metropolitan city of Vaasa and the municipality of Mustasaari has advanced in planning and completion of the environmental impact assessment programme (EIA).

The EIA is in cooperation with the South Ostrobothnia ELY Centre and other authorities in the area. The safety assessment, now complete, is in accordance with the T/Kem - plan notation required for battery factory functions. Both EIA and safety assessment were conducted by Gaia Consulting Oy in Helsinki.  Oy Vaasa Parks Ab has been acting as coordinator for the development of the different areas of land use.  

2017 signaled global acceleration of technological breakthroughs in energy storage and battery technology that will enable a more sustainable and environmentally sensitive world, among other benefits. Constraints in the availability of battery raw material brought attention to Finland. 

The past year saw increasing international awareness that the GigaVaasa operational environment is well-suited for mega-scale battery factories. A number of international operators have expressed interest, and preparation work continues intensively, states Ulla Mäki-Lohiluoma, Chief Executive Officer at Vaasa Parks.

Vaasa Laajametsä local master plan is available for public inspection

On the city of Vaasa’s side the name of the GigaVaasa-plan area is Laajametsä. The planning of the area started in spring 2017. The general planning of the area is made in the component local master plan, which will be specified with a local detailed plan. The draft component local master plan was approved by the planning section on November 28, 2017, and is available for public inspection from January 9, until February 7, 2018. Public comment regarding the draft can be made during that time.

The primary aim of the plan is to enable the placing of a battery factory in the area, and also to enable the establishment of related functions and other industry such as subcontractors in the area. In the draft plan there are three larger industrial quarters indicated, where battery factories or corresponding activities could be placed (T/Kem-areas). The largest quarter area is over 150 hectares.

- The plan areas are connected to each other at the municipality border, so that together with the industrial quarter on Mustasaari’s side a single industrial site as large as 200 hectares is formed. This has required close cooperation between the planning parties, Planning Director at City of Vaasa Päivi Korkealaakso states.

The component local master plan of Vaasa enables new industrial areas on about 300 hectares totally, of which 240 hectares are T/Kem-area and 60 hectares are T-area. Together the areas enable the building of about 850 000 floor square meters.

The draft local detailed plan will be processed in the planning section in January.

In Mustasaari both planning levels are proceeding in the case of Granholmsbacken II

On Mustasaari’s side, the planning of the Granholmsbacken II-area has proceeded on both component local master plan level and local detailed plan level. Of the land areas, 96 hectares are reserved for the requirements of the chemical industry and battery factories with the notation T/Kem. The participation and assessment plan was available for public inspection already in 2017.

- In the preparation the opinions and statements of for example Vaasan ympäristöseura ry (a local environment association) have been taken as far as possible into consideration, as well as the results from the nature inventory in 2017, Planning Director at Municipality of Mustasaari Barbara Påfs states.  

The planning work in Mustasaari continues during spring 2018, so that draft plans will be available for public inspection this month. We plan to have the proposals ready for public inspection in April and the plans will be processed in the municipal council in June 2018.

-The battery factory project is ambitious and challenging, something that one gets to experience only once in a lifetime. There is nothing like this anywhere else in Finland, Municipality Manager at Muncipality of Mustasaari Rurik Ahlberg states.

Area

The impact assessment has been done for the whole area in cooperation with Vaasa and Mustasaari

A preliminary impact assessment of the draft component local master plans has been done. According to this, the scale of the project enables the creation of more than 6 000 new jobs in the area. Furthermore, according to the assessment it is also possible that new jobs in the field of chemical industry would have indirect employment effects of up to 5 000 new jobs, of which the majority would be in the service sector.

According to the assessment, these indirect effects would spread to a wide area, even to the whole of Finland and also abroad. The aim of the environmental impact assessment programme (EIA-programme) is to investigate a project in which an industrial area with battery factories that produce lithium-ion batteries will be placed in the region of Vaasa. The EIA-programme is a plan about how the factories’ environmental impact will be assessed at the later actual environmental impact assessment, and therefore it can be done already before the actors that will establish the battery factories have been confirmed.

The EIA-programme is followed by the actual environmental impact assessment, that is the environmental impact assessment report. Two producing factories are being investigated, one of which is located in Vaasa and the other one in Mustasaari, on the same industrial area. Depending on the implementation alternative the factories will produce a total of 3000 000–800 000 batteries on a yearly basis, which in terms of energy capacity is equivalent to 50–100 GWh electric energy stored in the batteries.

- An environmental impact assessment procedure regarding the factories is required since more than 1 000 tons of solvents per year will be used in the factories, states Niina Pirttiniemi, responsible for the EIA-programme at the South Ostrobothnia ELY Centre’s Environmental unit. 

The development work of the region of Vaasa is unique

The EIA-programme that has been implemented for the large-scale industrial area is a tool for the planning. It is a framework for future projects and helps ensuring that the factories' activities can be truly sustainable. The EIA-programme work has been done really effectively in parallel with the planning and the safety assessments related to it. In the process, all information has been collected and used together, and the cooperation and information flow between the authorities has been coordinated.

In the approach of the Vaasa region, administrative processes are not contentious bottlenecks but are powerful building tools. The project is evidence that in Finland we can make things function by working together. The common process of different public stakeholders is increasing the value and attractiveness for battery factory actors and other investors that get readymade information about the operation environment. As a result, the EIA-programme ensures safety, increases the value of the area and saves money and time. The Vaasa region is developing a largescale factory area with a unique touch, says Mari Saario, responsible for the EIA-project and Business Director at Gaia Consulting.

The Finnish Gaia participates in different international projects concerning sustainable business operation, and they see the now implemented operation model as a future competitive force.

Further information: 
Tomas Häyry, Mayor of Vaasa, phone +358 40 540 5412, tomas.hayry@vaasa.fi
Call back requests to Ulla Huhmarsalo, phone +358 6 325 1022.
Ulla Mäki-Lohiluoma, phone 040 573 3004, ulla.maki-lohiluoma@vaasaparks.fi