New maritime spatial plan to reach government soon
The new maritime spatial plan, which aims to permit more off-shore wind farms, should reach the government for approval soon. There was no need to change the plan substantially after being put up for public appeals and discussion in early November.
The Ministry of Finance's planning department acting director Triin Lepland said the ministry will take one more look at the maritime spatial plan after the public display period is finished, which means the plan should reach the government for approval in January.
Lepland said no new ideas were presented during the public period. "There were a total of 10 different opinions presented and these comments were largely the same ones we heard in June. There were no new topics presented. There were some clarifications, as well, we are working on them," the finance ministry official said.
"The plan will be presented to the government in January, likely the second half of January. Then it will depend on how fast the government processes it. Will they discuss it at a sitting right away and pass it or is there something else to discuss. It is hard to predict how long it will take the government. Currently, it seems like it could move as fast as possible," Lepland noted.
Until now, only the areas near Pärnu County have been planned out with active wind farm developments already ongoing. "Once the plan is implemented, the rest of the maritime area has general rules on how to develop off-shore wind farms, for example," Lepland said.
The plan will still, however, not include the areas surrounding Hiiumaa as a wind farm development court case against the state was ongoing when the plan was initiated. "The Supreme Court decision came in after the Estonian maritime area process had already started. The process was around the half-way mark," Lepland noted.
The Supreme Court annulled a plan concerning wind farms in Hiiumaa in 2018, stating that the environmental impact had not been assessed and relevant studies had not been conducted. Once the national maritime plan becomes valid, the finance ministry intends to continue working on the Hiiumaa maritime area. "The situation regarding the Hiiumaa maritime area is one where we can do a spatial analysis to understand the other studies necessary," Lepland said.
"We likely need to initiate a new planning procedure. But no decision has been made as to what needs to take place, because we have not conducted this spatial analysis," the finance ministry official said, adding that a spatial plan for Hiiumaa could be drawn up in three or four years.
The ministry published the maritime spatial plan in November. The plan has stated the general rules and principles for different uses of the sea and has also established conditions and directives for new uses. The spatial plan is an important foundation for the creation of off-shore wind farms in Estonia.
The plan sets more than 20 conditions for wind energy, including the locations of wind farms, taking into consideration wind power density, depth and rules out overlap with natural values, marine life, national defense zones and busy shipping lines.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste