Riigikogu committees discuss stopping wind farm construction for reasons of national security
A meeting of the Riigikogu’s national defense and environment committees discussed the implications of building new wind farms for national defense. Although investments have been made in Ida-Viru County in recent years, the fact that the turbines interfere with NATO’s early warning systems is increasingly seen as a problem.
According to a press release by the parliament's chancellery, chairman of the National Defence Committee, Marko Mihkelson (IRL) pointed out in the meeting on Thursday that the wind turbines with their enormous rotors would seriously disturb radar systems. “Prior warning is crucial to our national defense,” Mihkelson said. “In light of our geographical position and the complex security situation, the government should take a clear stand on whether or not to allow construction of wind farms in areas that are sensitive from the point of view of security.”
The technical issue at hand is that the the rotor blades of the wind turbines disperse radio signals and produce an enormous radar echo that can interfere with military equipment. This makes it difficult to identify and pinpoint specific contacts.
A case referred to both by Mihkelson and the Environment Committee’s chairman, Rainer Vakra (SDE), is Finland, which banned the construction of wind farms along its eastern border, and is offering companies and investors land elsewhere instead. Vakra suggested that the state could compensate companies in Ida-Viru County for investments made so far, and offer them plots elsewhere in Estonia to build their turbines.
The military aspect of building wind farms is a new element in an already ongoing debate. There are several policies at work here, among them the attempt to end Estonia’s dependence on Russian electricity, calls to have Estonia disconnected from the Russian energy grid, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications’ renewable energy percentage target.
The committees agreed that national defense needed to be given priority over renewable energy targets, and that as the eastern border of NATO was involved, security considerations affected not only Estonia, but all of the alliance.
A ban of wind farm construction in border areas would affect businesses and sites in Lääne-Viru and Ida-Viru County as well as the south of Estonia.