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Estonian ministry: Aidu wind farm building permits not consistent with requirements

Estonian news - eteap April 17, 2018

Baltic News Service. 17th of April, 2018

The requirements arising from valid laws were not observed in the issuance of construction permits for the Aidu wind farm, and the decision made by the Tartu Administrative Court on Tuesday helps to move forward toward solving the issue, the Estonian Defense Ministry said.

“It is good that the court made a decision which helps to move forward toward a substantive solution. It is important to emphasize that with regard to the Aidu wind farm project the state should have interfered in any case, even if no national defense related restrictions existed, because the requirements set out in legislative acts have not been observed in the issuance of the construction permits,” Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general for defense planning at the Defense Ministry, told BNS.

The Tartu-based court on Tuesday decided to go on with the legal dispute over the lawfulness of the construction permits, finding that the East-Viru county governor turned to court in a timely manner and that the handling of the protest must be continued. An application to dismiss the protest or to close the proceeding had been filed by the Luganuse municipality and the company Aidu Tuulepark OU belonging to wind energy developers Oleg and Andres Sonajalg.

“There must be zero tolerance in Estonia for attempts at bypassing valid requirements and violating the law, this too is a vital part of our security. Today’s decision also demonstrates that everyone is equal before the law, the state cannot impose different standards for different business operators in line with their business interests. Also, Estonia is not rich enough to acquire and maintain radars costing tens of millions of euros that will show us nothing in the end,” Oidsalu said.

“Thus also the developers of wind farms must invest in maintaining the functional capability of existing radars. It is important to acknowledge that aside from national defense related restrictions the opportunities for the development of wind farms are narrowed down by different other kinds of restrictions, such as environmental restrictions and the interest of local residents, and lifting the national defense related restrictions does not automatically mean an increase in the freedom of enterprise,” Oidsalu said, adding that approved regional plans do not entitle developers to put up wind turbines of whatever height.

“The height of wind turbines has more than doubled since 2000; today the wish is to put up turbines 300 meters high, and therefore it cannot be avoided that wind turbines have hit us over the head,” the official said.

The parties to the proceeding mostly argued over whether the county governor learned about the issuance of the construction permits at the time mentioned by the county governor or at an earlier point in time, meaning in the summer of 2016 the latest.

The court found that the county governor did not find out before February 2017 about the fact that the construction permits had been issued for a project not endorsed by the Defense Ministry, and that the procedures undertaken by the county governor to contest the construction permits were carried out in due time.

By now the role of the county governor in the litigation has been taken over by the Ministry of Justice.

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