Ministry: Linnamäe, Jägala hydroelectric plants not vital service providers ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Dam at the Linnamäe hydroelectric plant in Jõelähtme.
Dam at the Linnamäe hydroelectric plant in Jõelähtme. Source: Marko Tooming/ERR

The Jägala and Linnamäe hydroelectric power plants do not qualify as vital service providers, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said on Wednesday.

This May, Jõelähtme municipal government approached the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications with a proposal to consider planning the introduction of the Jägala and Linnamäe hydroelectric power plants as sources of electricity production independent of external influences that could also work autonomously in the event of possible crisis situations and as a possible evacuation assembly area near Tallinn.

In its response, the ministry highlighted that the net capacity of a vital service provider power plant must exceed 200 megawatts and have a significant impact on the operation of the electricity system in crisis situations. The capacity of the Jägala plant is 2 megawatts, while the capacity of the Linnamäe plant is 1.2 megawatts.

"Your hydroelectric power plant undoubtedly makes an important contribution to meeting Estonia's renewable energy targets and also to supplying electricity to the region," the ministry said. "Power plants with a net capacity of 2 megawatts and 1.2 megawatts do not qualify as vital service providers, and additional capacity would be needed in this area to create a separate evacuation area."

The nonprofit Jägala Kalateed, among others, is opposed to electricity production at the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant and has supported the reopening of the Jägala River as a spawning ground for Salmonidae fish.

"Currently, the circumstances concerning the special water use permit for the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant are being clarified and an environmental impact assessment procedure is underway for damming and electricity production in the Natura area on the Jägala River," the nonprofit said in a press release on Wednesday. "It has been established that damming and electricity generation by the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant has a negative impact on the integrity and protection objectives of the Natura 2000 network area."

Jägala Kalateed also pointed out that, according to the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act, the government may give consent to allow activities with a negative impact in the Natura 2000 network area only for overriding and compelling reasons and in the absence of alternative solutions. This, in turn, requires compensatory measures to the extent of the damage caused to the environment.

At the end of last year, Jägala Kalateed proposed to Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) that the minister strip the dam at Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant of the status of cultural monument, but the National Heritage Board denied the request, as the authority believe the dam to be a unique object.

The dam of the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant was declared a cultural monument in 2016. The cessation of the damming of the Jägala River at Linnamäe has been demanded by the Environmental BOard and various associations connected to fishermen, who believe it would be possible to repopulate the Jägala River with Salmonidae fish by stopping the damming. According to the Environmental Board, this is a potentially excellent salmon river.

Jõelähtme Municipality, the Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage Board, among others, have spoken out against stopping the damming and emptying the reservoir. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has also expressed support of the preservation of the Linnamäe hydroelectric power plant and the reservoir alongside it.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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