1. Conflict around Kymi’s bioenergy Oy’s biogas plant, Taneli Pantsar
2. Background information
2.1 Conflict started straight after biogas plant was completed and put into service on the first quarterly of 2001. News reports tell that conflict lasted at least one and a half year. (Kouvolan Sanomat) Conflict was located in Kouvola city in Kymi region (located in southeastern Finland). Biogas plant is based in Mäkikylä which is four kilometres south from Kouvola’s city centre.
2.2. Conflict type: The core of the conflict was smell harm caused to surrounding neighbourhood residents. On the other hand, conflict was as well legally because it was questioned whether bioenergy company has neglected promises it has made concerning construction.
2.3. Resources involved:
Biogas plant uses household waste, feeding grasses, wood industry’s bio residuals and fibre residuals as raw material. Plant has capacity to use up to 19 000 tons waste material per year. This gives approximately 14 000 MWh biogas. (Kouvola’s water Oy)
3. Evaluation of the conflict
3.1. Main Issues and descriptions
This case had social consequences in way of smell harms. It could have been irritating to spend time outside when wind brings rotten smell from the biogas plant. Economical issue is the cleaning process investments that are needed to purify the out coming air from the plant to avoid it smell bad. There wasn’t any ecological issue because even if the gasses weren’t carefully enough cleaned those weren’t harmful for environment. Cultural issue could have been the impact that this case had for reputation of bioenergy.
3.2. Main stakeholders involved
Kymi’s bioenergy Oy (company which owns biogas plant) is a stakeholder who is main responsible for creating the conflict and that way the main accused. Residents of Kouvola city are those who have “prosecutor’s” role in this case. Southern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency is also accused in this case because it gave the permission for establishment of biogas plant. Kouvola’s city is a stakeholder in the background because biogas plant is a part of city’s energy strategy.
3.3. Analysis of the stakeholders’ values and interests
Kymi’s bioenergy Oy is a company which goal is making profitable business. Company’s key values are sustainable development and ecology. It aims to produce ecological energy fertilizer to clients from domestic raw material. (Kouvola’s water Oy)
Residents nearby related positively to new biogas plant because there wasn’t any complains stated when Kymi’s bioenergy searched building permission for plant (AVI’s decision paper). Smell harm was a surprise and affected to some resident’s every day life (Kouvolan Sanomat 23.6.2011). That’s why some turned against biogas plant.
Southern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency aims to give permissions to projects which benefit region’s development the best way. Biogas plant can be seen as one so it was natural choice to support this kind of project when proper plans were shown. (AVI’s decision paper)
Kouvola’s city aims to support sustainable business and secure energy availability at the same time. Biogas is renewable energy source and fits well in Ministry of Employment and the Economy’s (TEM) energy strategy (TEM’s bioenergy 2020 report. 2010.).
3.4. Evaluation of the intensity of the conflict
There were lots of disagreement and discussion around the case. Some public opinion writings were published in local news paper “Kouvolan Sanomat”. Any violence or sabotage to biogas plant haven’t been reported.
3.5. Evaluation of the possible causes of the conflict
It seems that smell harm became as surprise for all stakeholders. This might be because of relatively new technology used. Southern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency and Kouvola’s city could maybe have been more accurate in regulations they gave to energy company. Residents might feel they were betrayed and got another smelly plant instead of new technology smell free biogas plant.
3.6. Main elements that may preclude conflict resolution
Energy company’s willingness to resolve the conflict is in key role. If energy company isn’t interested to aim enough resources to problem solving the conflict would continue.
3.7. Main elements that may encourage conflict escalation
Situation where energy company rejects to do anything to situation and says it has filled all promises it has given could lead to escalation of conflict. Also if problems seem to multiply and growing part of city’s residents suffer from it this would lead into unthinking activity.
AVI’s decision paper considering biogas plant construction. 2010. http://www.avi.fi/documents/10191/56820/esavi_paatos_66_2010_2-2010-10-22.pdf [Cited 7.2.2016]
Kouvolan Sanomat 23.6.2011. [web article] http://www.kouvolansanomat.fi/Mielipide---Sana-on-vapaa/2011/06/23/Biokaasulaitoksen+hajuhaitta+vain+jatkuu/2011211508418/69 [Cited 7.2.2016]
TEM’s bioenergy 2020 report. 2010. [web article] https://www.tem.fi/files/25900/TEM_6_2010.pdf [Cited 7.2.2016]
Kouvola’s water Oy’s (Kymi’s bioenergy Oy is nowadays part of this company) website. 2016. http://www.kouvolanvesi.fi/biolaitos/ [Cited 7.2.2016]