By the end of this year, the Varstu airfield will be restored, providing good conditions for practice flights, people interested in technology sports, and nature tourists from both Estonia and abroad. This helps to develop the business and living environments mainly in Varstu and Mõniste rural municipalities, but also in South-Estonia as a whole.
“The distance of Varstu and Mõniste rural municipalities from centres has inhibited the development of business. Although the region provides great prerequisites for promoting nature tourism – for example, the protected areas of Paganamaa and the Peetri River – the tourism service sector has not been developed till now. The restoration of the airfield is an important step towards raising the attractiveness of the region as a tourist destination, which it is definitely worth,” said Tarmo Leppoja, Member of Management Board of Enterprise Estonia.
Varstu airfield, as a complete structure, was established in the years 1976-1977 as a so-called chemistry airfield. The airfield is the only asphalt-covered 400×20 m runway south of Tartu, and the restoration thereof allows for it to be used for the benefit of the region for decades to come. Restoration involves the extension of the runway, renewal of the runway surface and the establishment of a platform for airplanes and a car park together with roads. The total cost of the project is MEEK 1.6, of which the grant for increasing the competitiveness of regions, co-funded from the European Regional Development Fund, covers MEEK 1.4.
Varstu rural municipality has preserved the land of the airfield: no new structures or power lines have been erected on the airfield and the safety zone bordering it. In 2006, the rural municipality governments of Varstu and Mõniste established a foundation, together with four companies, for restoring the airfield, seeking ways to increase the attractiveness of the southernmost rural municipalities in Estonia.
In cooperation with the Estonian Private Pilots Association and Latvian Private Pilots Association, the Foundation SA Varstu Lennuväli wishes to make a tradition of Varstu flight days on the airfield each summer, to bring more interested people to the field of aeronautics. The first flight days in July 2006 were attended by 9 planes, 20 parachutists and almost 2000 spectators. The restoration of the airfield will create possibilities for increasing the scale of the event and introducing the rural municipalities of Varstu and Mõniste as attractive destinations.
Varstu airfield is also well suited as a practice airfield, especially for practicing landings on short runways. In 2006, 212 landings were made on the airfield.
Varstu airfield is also an exciting place for people interested in technology sports. The airfield can be used for organising racing competitions and motorbike and go-kart events. The foundation also wishes to develop a modern technology sports facility by the airfield.
In cooperation with the nearby Vastse-Roosa border guard station, border control can be ordered for the airfield as well.
The budget of the programme for increasing the competitiveness of regions in the EU funding period 2007-2013 is EEK 1.5 billion, and the goal is to make various regions in Estonia more attractive for entrepreneurs, investors, qualified labour force and visitors. From the programme, local governments and non-profit associations can apply for grants for implementing projects that promote local tourism and recreation management. As an individual option, the programme stipulates the making of former military, industrial or agricultural sites useful again.
Source: Enterprise Estonia
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