Oil report

Finnish agency says has 4 Nord Stream complaints

HELSINKI, March 16 (Reuters) - A local Finnish environmental authority said it has received four complaints about its decision to approve building of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, with a court to process the appeals in the coming months.

“Three (are) from private citizens and a joint one is from the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Estonian environmental associations,” Mika Seppala, a councillor at South Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency, told Reuters.

The agency in Febuary gave approval to Russia to build part of its biggest post-Soviet gas pipeline in Finnish waters under the Baltic Sea from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany.

The environmental associations said Finland granted the building permit too hastily without taking into consideration all information, for instance the latest estimates on the amount of environmental toxins at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland.

“We demand that the (building) permit has to be revoked or the conditions tightened significantly, but firstly we are demanding a revocation on the starting of building,” said Pertti Sundqvist at the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

Chief Judge Liisa Talvitie at the Vaasa administrative court in northwest Finland said the court, which will handle the appeals, could give its ruling by the end of the summer.

“(At first) we will decide if we will make a separate decision on the construction starting permit or if we will process the whole case at once,” she said.

Nord Stream spokesman Sebastian Sass said the complaints did not include any “new or surprising aspects” and the firm still planned to start building work and continue mine clearing in April.

The project is estimated to cost 7.4 billion euros ($10.1 billion) and to be completed in 2012. Nord Stream is majority owned by Gazprom GAZP.MM, which is building it with Germany's BASF BASF.F, E.ON EONGn.DE and Dutch Gasunie.

Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by Keiron Henderson