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Estonian ministry says developer building wind farm without permission

Estonian news - eteap July 19, 2018

Baltic News Service. 19th of July, 2018

The Ministry of Defense is accusing the company Aidu Tuulepark OU, a holding of businessmen Oleg and Andres Sonajalg, of moving on with the construction of a wind farm in northeast Estonia despite having no permission to do it, public broadcaster ERR reported.

The ministry said that while the company is not allowed to continue building the wind farm as long as the dispute over the construction permit has not been solved, drone videos made by the ministry show that construction work on the site continues despite the fines already meted out.

The businessmen argue that what they are engaging in is storage, not construction.

It appears from a drone video shot by the Ministry of Defense on May 23 that construction activity is going on near the wind turbines, and it has been defined as such also by a court, Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Defense for defense planning, said.

The ministry finds that where the adding of a layer of crushed limestone could be viewed as storage, building a hill is not something that can still be interpreted as such.

“The Sonajalgs are just moving on with construction of the wind farm despite all interim protection orders,” the deputy secretary general said, adding that it is apparently their plan to complete four or five wind turbines without a construction permit and in violation of the interim protection order and to start producing electric energy, in order to calm down creditors.

“Even if the court fines them ten times, these [fines] are merely symbolic and they will just pay them, plain and simple,” Oidsalu said. “They expect us to acquiesce somehow, and they will pay a penalty or something if necessary. But this is a style of the 1990s, back then things like this were done. We definitely will not agree to such conduct of business.”

Andres Sonajalg told ERR that the claim that construction of the wind farm in Aidu is continuing was not correct.

“The Ministry of Defense is telling outright lies,” Sonajalg said, describing also the bringing of turbine blades and turbine towers to the site as storage, not construction.

“We have the right of superficies, we have a property. It has been given to us for 99 years and we can do everything there that does not get in the way of defense capability. The Ministry of Defense has no right to interpret storage as construction activity. The state is totally ignoring the Constitution, and the state of course has an institution like the Ministry of Defense, which is a repressive body and is repressing its own citizens in the present case,” Sonajalg said.

The governor of East-Viru county on April 28 last year went to court seeking the cancelation of the construction permits issued to the developer on the basis of a decision of the government of the Maidla municipality. The legal dispute has been ongoing since.

The county governor said that the permits must be canceled because the designs for which the construction permits were issued differed substantially from the designs agreed with the Ministry of Defense. He also argued that the construction permits run counter to the thematic plan, as the design and the parameters of the wind turbines differ from those set out in the plan.

According to the thematic plan endorsed by the municipality council in March 2011, 33 wind turbines with a maximum mast height of 135 meter and maximum height of 185 meters including the height of the rotor blade could be put up in the area.

The Ministry of Defense meanwhile endorsed a preliminary design in April 2012 according to which the maximum height of the 33 turbine towers was 129 meters without changes made to the elevation of the ground, and a rotor diameter of 56 meters.

The municipality government in February 2013 issued permits for the construction of 33 turbines of a different design with a mast height of 135 meters. The decision made a reference to the approval previously issued by the Ministry of Defense.

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