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Estonia: Enefit Green planning up to 1,100MW wind farm near Hiiumaa island

Uncategorized - Tuul August 16, 2019

Baltic News Service, 15th of August

Enefit Green, the renewable energy subsidiary of Estonian state-owned energy group Eesti Energia, has submitted to public display an environmental impact assessment of a Northwestern Estonian coastal waters wind farm, according to which the company is planning an up to 1,100 megawatt off-shore wind farmnear the island of Hiiumaa.

The planned number of wind turbines is 107-182, depending on the turbine’s nominal power. The distance between turbines is approximately one kilometer and the developer has chosen sea areas at least 12 kilometers from the coast of Hiiumaa as the wind farm‘s location, it appears from the Ministry of the Environment’s notice of public display of the environmental impact assessment report.

Proposals regarding the environmental impact assessment report can be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment until Sept. 16. A public discussion will be held at the Kardla culture center at 4 p.m. on Sept. 18.

The role of developer of an off-shore wind farm near Hiiumaa was previously held by renewable energy company Nelja Energia, but since December of last year, the position has been taken over by Enefit Green, which bought the renewable energy company last year.

NGO Hiiu Tuul, which has previously achieved victory in the Supreme Court of Estonia regarding the revocation of the wind farm plan, turned to the Ministry of Finance regarding the initiation of an environmental impact assessment as it is still against it.

The NGO is drawing the attention of Katri-Liis Ennok, head of the ministry’s planning department, to the fact that, according to the law, the construction of a Northwest Estonian wind farm requires the preparation of a national designated spatial plan as the planned off-shore wind farm will have an electrical nominal power of more than 150 megawatts.

“One of the largest wind farms in Europe is being planned without anyone asking whether it could be built in Hiiumaa’s waters,” it is said in an inquiry sent by Inge Talts, member of the management board of Hiiu Tuul.

As the developer is still making expenses to improve the environmental impact assessment report of the Northwestern Estonian wind farm, NGO Hiiu Tuul also wants to know whether Eesti Energia may develop a legitimate expectation of establishing a wind farm or compensation for the expenses incurred.

The Supreme Court of Estonia in August 2018 revoked a plan concerning prospective offshore wind farms near Hiiumaa, the second largest island of Estonia, finding that the impact of wind turbines and undersea cables on the environment has not been established and relevant studies have not been carried out.

The Supreme Court ruled on an appeal in cassation by the nonprofit NGO Hiiu Tuul bringing together opponents of the wind generating project, which sought cancellation of the order of the Hiiu county governor issued on June 20, 2016 by which the plan for the maritime area was established.

The plan set out areas for the production of wind energy, as well as offered guidelines for the development of transport, fishery, and tourism. The appeal in cassation by NGO Hiiu Tuul and other persons contested the permission to establish wind farms in the coastal sea off Hiiumaa.

According to the top court, failure to offer a precise enough assessment of the environmental impact cannot be substantiated with the argument that the plans of the developers and details of their actions in implementing the plan, such as the number of turbines, their capacity and height, are not known for certain. It said that in assessing the impact of a plan it is crucial what activity, at what location and on what scale the state is planning and considering possible in principle in the plan, not on what scale and how exactly the developers will actually carry out the plan. Abstract nature of the planned solution definitely can not justify not conducting a study of the current environmental situation, according to the top court.

The court found that in the framework of the strategic environmental impact assessment, the impacts of the wind turbines as well as the cables connecting them with the mainland and their links to other activities have not been established and relevant surveys conducted. This includes failure to conduct an assessment necessary to determine the impacts of the planned activities on Natura areas and protected species. Therefore the decision to establish the plan is not legitimate, according to the Supreme Court.

Based on the above, the Supreme Court revoked the portion of the order of the Hiiu county governor from June 20, 2016 concerning the areas for the production of wind energy, leaving other portions of it in force.

Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8815, majandus@bns.ee

Baltic News Service

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