Published 20.3.2018

Metsähallitus will not lease out land at Sulaoja for a water bottling plant

Metsähallitus has decided not to lease out land at Sulaoja in Utsjoki for a water bottling plant. In principle, Metsähallitus takes a positive view of projects promoting the regional economy and business activities involving novel natural resources. However, we always take careful consideration of the opinions of local communities and work to ensure that different views can be reconciled. It emerged during the consultations that there is strong opposition to the lease and therefore we concluded that the site should not be leased out for the purpose.

“Instead, we have proposed to the entrepreneur that we should jointly find a better location for the plant,” explains Tuomo Kokkoniemi, Land Use Expert at Metsähallitus.

Last year, Metsähallitus received two lease applications for a site at Sulaoja for a water bottling plant. The first application was rejected because the site was partially located in an area protected under the Antiquities Act. The second application was for a site located at an old gravel pit, which is further away from the Sulaoja spring and the protected area.

“As the landowner, Metsähallitus must consider all permit applications in a proper manner. The second application differed from the first one and for this reason it had to be considered separately,” Kokkoniemi explains.

Metsähallitus requested opinions on the project from the municipality of Utsjoki, the Sami Parliament, the Sami Museum Siida, Paistunturi reindeer herding cooperative and the ELY Centre for Lapland.

“Except for the ELY Centre, all parties submitting opinions were against the establishment of a water bottling plant at the site,” Kokkoniemi says. Metsähallitus also received a petition against the project and a petition for it, as well as a small number of other opinions by parties opposing the project.

“The proposed site was the reason why this water bottling plant project failed. For the Sami people, the areas around Sulaoja are sacred,” Kokkoniemi adds. The Sulaoja area is extremely important in terms of cultural history. There was no categorical opposition to the water bottling plant itself and in many of the opinions it was proposed that the parties concerned should find another site in Utsjoki for the plant.

In its opinion, the Sami Parliament stated that it “encourages members of the Sami community to put forward new initiatives that are ecologically and culturally sustainable and that could also provide a basis for vibrant Sami life in the Sami Homeland in the future”.

Both the municipality of Utsjoki and the Paistunturi reindeer herding cooperative proposed in their opinions that the applicant and Metsähallitus should find another location for the water bottling plant.

Further information
Tuomo Kokkoniemi, Land Use Expert, Metsähallitus Property Development Unit, tel. +358 (0)400 205 974,
Tuomas Hallenberg, Director, Metsähallitus Property Development Unit, tel. +358 (0)40 528 6069,