Defense ministry wants to tighten up Saaremaa wind farm planning criteria

WInd turbines (photo is illustrative).
WInd turbines (photo is illustrative). Source: Estonian wind energy association

The defense ministry wants to impose stricter criteria on the location and details of proposed Saaremaa wind farms.

The ministry says it opposes the current draft spatial plan, citing changes in defense requirements, regional daily Saarte Hääl reports (link in Estonian).

In particular, the ministry has singled out two potential locations at the eastern extremities of the current plan, at Sikassaare, just outside the island's capital, Kuressaare, and Karujärv, the island's largest lake, as being unsuitable. Should a wind farm go ahead, turbine blade heights should not exceed 65 meters in some cases (about half the standard size).

Clashes between the ministry and wind farm developers have happened before, most notably with the Aidu wind farm project in eastern Estonia. In that case, the ministry says that turbines as planned would have interfered with its defense radar.

Local residents have also expressed their opposition to aspects of the plan, particularly on the Sõrve peninsula, Saaremaa's southernmost extremity, which they say should remain wind turbine-free.

Saare municipality architect Mark Grimitliht stressed that the plan is very much at draft stage and is only listing potential locations, all of which are at least 1,000 from existing dwelling buildings, as well as away from Class I and Class I wildlife habitats.

The report comes at the same time as the government has green-lighted a joint Estonian-Latvian offshore wind farm development in the Gulf of Riga; wind farm controversies often arise with regard to private sector developers rather than those under the auspices of state-owned electricity generator Eesti Energia, and its renewables subsidiary Enefit Green.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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