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Estonian government does not back restrictions on island wind turbines

Estonian news - eteap July 25, 2013

Baltic News Services, 25.07.2013

The Estonian government did not back at its Thursday meeting MP Tonis Palts’ proposal to ban installation of wind turbines taller than 30 meters or with a capacity of more than 20 kilowatts on the off-coast islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Muhu and Vormsi.

The government’s decision was based on the position of the Environment Ministry that there are not enough environmental arguments requiring regulation at the national level to amend the law.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications likewise withheld support for the bill, deeming it to be in conflict with the Planning Act. The act defines spatial planning as a democratic process in which interests of different stakeholders including local residents can be taken into account. Development plans must in a balanced manner take into consideration the specifics of the natural environment and the economic, social and cultural environment of a concrete place, including the need to preserve valuable natural environments.

The minister of regional affairs for his part said he in principle supports the bill but pointed out that it is not clear from the accompanying explanatory note why installation of large wind turbines should be ruled out only on the listed islands.

The government will forward its opinion to the parliamentary Environment Committee by Friday.

Palts, a member of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, explained that untouched nature and historical heritage are the wealth of Estonian islands but huge wind turbines are visually intruding man- made objects that look like unpleasant foreign objects in the nature.

“Tourism is the biggest branch of economy of Estonian islands and global experience shows that wind parks scare away tourists. It is therefore necessary to introduce a law that will leave those unique areas unpolluted by wind parks and so enable both island residents and visitors to enjoy the rich beauty of our nature also in times to come,” the lawmaker said.

In his words, it would be most logical to introduce a corresponding amendment into nature conservation law.


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