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Islanders concerned about effects of large wind farms

Offshore wind turbines (photo is illustrative).
Offshore wind turbines (photo is illustrative). Source: European Wind Energy Association/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Residents living on Saaremaa's Sõrve Penninsular are concerned about the impact of large-scale sea wind farms planned for the area in the coming years.

Planning permission has already been given to build 100 wind turbines in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Saaremaa but residents say they do not know what effect they will have on the environment on their living space.

But developers would already like to double the size of the initial plans.

If the current effects of small wind turbines can already be felt in the area, what will happen in the future?

"I've experienced a couple of bigger cargo ships pass by. I know what it's like when a house starts to vibrate. But those are two empty cargo ships and it took 20 minutes. What if we have thousands of windmills?" said resident Kaupo Vipp.

ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported the answer is not known as no similar situations have been recorded elsewhere.

Doctor Antti Kukkela told AK little attention has been paid to the effects on health in maritime spatial planning.

"Research has found that the distribution of low-frequency sound has been measured at a distance of 90 kilometers and is based on wind farms," ​​Kukkela said.

Saaremaa municipality also has little say in where the wind farm will be built.

"Indeed, there is currently no such legal lever that Saaremaa municipality can have a clear say in," said Madis Kallas, the mayor of Saaremaa. He believes it may be possible to find a compromise.

Member of the Saaremaa Parish Council Mihkel Undrest said residents have not been taken into account.

In 2020, planning permission was given to build a wind farm near Sõrve Peninsula and the turbines will need to provide 600-megawatts of energy.

The initial plan was proposed in 2015, but since technology has advanced since then the developer now wants to more than double its capacity to 1,400-megawatt.

There are several more plans to develop wind farms in the Gulf of Riga, such as Utilitas' application to build almost 300 turbines. Additionally, 16 new applications have been submitted for the three development areas, all by companies Utilitas and Sunly Wind. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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