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Estonian MP: Environment minister does not care about preserving islands’ nature

Estonian news - eteap July 25, 2013

Baltic News Services, 25.07.2013

The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union lawmaker Tonis Palts whose proposal to set restrictions on wind turbines installed on Estonia’s major islands was rejected by the government on Thursday said the government’s position shows that the minister of environment does not care about the natural environment of the islands.

“What the government’s decision shows is that the Reform Party environment minister does not care about preservation of the natural environment of the islands. The opinion of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications also is incomprehensible. If things are already perfectly regulated, why do monstrous structures keep going up in our beautiful scenic places?” Palts told BNS.

In his words, it has to be understood that islands as pearls of Estonian nature do not belong to shortsighted and occasionally self- seeking municipality leaders but to islanders and the nation as a whole.

The government did not back at its Thursday meeting 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, basing its decision 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 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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