The planning process for wind farms in a southwestern Estonian municipality is going ahead, with several possible sites earmarked for future development.
Margus Källe, a planning specialist at the Lääneranna rural municipality, to the northwest of Pärnu city, says the public round of initial development plan for the wind farms has taken place, and has resulted in various proposals.
This round will now be followed by an information round for the relevant authorities.
Seven zones have been considered as potential areas for the development of wind energy, Källe said, and a suitable choice will be made from among these (see map below).
A draft pre-selection decision for the site, together with an environmental impact assessment, should be ready for publication by summer's end, while a fresh round of public hearings are also expected in the autumn.
Processing a special plan is a complicated process, Källe, said, adding it was difficult to find a model on which to base Lääneranna's, since other local governments are only halfway there with similar special plans.
Källe said that: "Which means that on the whole site of this matter, that is, all of us who come into contact with these special plans here, these municipalities and local governments, are still discovering this path. Perhaps what is the most sensible and optimal and appropriate. to manage."
The special plan only concerns onshore wind farms, he added, noting that opinions received so far have run the gamut. "The developers' suggestions are that the areas should be added. This is one side of the coin. But the other side is the statements from private individuals and also NGOs, that they should not build any wind farms at all. The picture is sometimes very contradictory. Finding an optimum is not easy."
Nonetheless, wind energy developers are very interested in the municipality, Källe said. "Of course, the interest is very high; there is still a seaside municipality and there is more than one of these developers. So at the moment there are four or five [developers] here."
Spatial planning and environmental management consultancy firm Hendrikson & Ko is preparing the special plan for Lääneranna wind farms, and its environmental impact assessment for the municipality.
Wind power in Estonia has to date only been land-based, though offshore turbines are planned for the Gulf of Riga, in a joint Estonian-Latvian venture.
Lääneranna rural municipality has a population of a little under 5,500, and with a population density of around 4 people per sq km is sparsely populated even by Estonian standards. The largest town is Lihula.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aili Vahtla