Public administration minister: Maritime plans an interest group deal

An offshore wind farm. Photo is illustrative.
An offshore wind farm. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Nuon/Creative Commons)

The Estonian maritime spatial plan has been drawn up and public discussions are to take place this week in Tallinn, Kuressaare and Sakala. The plan sets guidelines on how Estonian maritime areas could be used environmentally responsibly for the coming decades.

The plans have already been agreed for Hiiumaa and Pärnu County, but not for the rest of Estonia.

The main solution and impact assessment report was made available to the public in spring, and it received updates and amendments following that.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) told ERR the plan, in its essence, is an agreement between interest groups.

Aab said: "The plan describes all the actions that happen in maritime areas: establishes naval corridors, shows the locations capable of holding wind farms. The area has been assessed, so economic activity would not disturb the environment. All entrepreneurs and companies are made aware of the rules there."

Wind farm development remains a topic of dispute

Wind farm developers are awaiting clear and precise wording to plan their future actions. But environmental organizations and people living on coastlines also have their own interests.

Aab said that many factors have to be taken into account when developing wind farms and those are also highlighted in the plan.

The minister said: "There are certain depths that we can not go further than because the development would be pointless. There are security restrictions, Estonian Defence Forces radars that can not be obstructed. We remember the arguments in Ida-Viru County.

"This plan has clearly marked these areas where wind farms are possible. We have also tried to consider visual pollution so that looking at the sea would not be disturbing. A certain distance from the shore has been set and larger areas are on the open sea."

Underwater monuments were also being considered when drawing up the plan.

Aab said he has spoken with experts and divers who have investigated the seabed. "Suur Strait - between the mainland and Saaremaa - and also between Hiiumaa and the mainland are areas where many wrecks are preserved. These do not stand in the way of economical activity but the plan maps and brings them out."

As a result of public discussions, the plan can be amended and changed and Aab intends to present it to the government in March.

It still has to be reassessed every five years. "Circumstances change. Wind turbine technology also changes. I do not believe anyone will draw up a new plan in the next 10-15 years but it still has to be assessed," Aab concluded.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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