Ministries arguing over wind turbine fee for fishing sector

Wind turbine.
Wind turbine. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Ministry of Rural Affairs has turned to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MKM) as it finds the latter has ignored prior agreements concerning compensation for the fishing sector in draft legislation regulating wind turbine fees.

Draft legislation to reduce Estonia's dependence on natural gas, currently in its second reading in the Riigikogu, has been complemented with proposed amendments to the Environmental Charges Act that include compensation for fishing companies as part of wind farm toleration payments if reduction in fish stocks can be proven. The rural affairs ministry finds that MKM has ignored previously agreed-on principles.

For example, fish processors have been excluded from among potential beneficiaries and the total sum of compensation for fishermen reduced.

Ain Soome, head of the fisheries department of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, described the current situation as unsatisfactory. "We cannot accept the compensation sum for the fisheries sector being reduced from €700,000 per wind farm in the original version of the bill to just €100,000-150,000 now. That amounts to €70 per fisherman," Soome said.

The annual support sum has been calculated per wind farm with an output of 1 gigawatt. The toleration payment is not automatic and its extent depends on proven negative effect on fish stocks. Timo Tatar, MKM undersecretary for energy and natural resources, said that the principles based on which the toleration payment is calculated changed during work on the bill, adding that he hopes there will not be widespread need for the instrument.

"Offshore wind farms are built in a way and in places where environmental impact has been evaluated and found to be minimal. We believe the farms will not impact fishing yields. But because the theoretical risk exists, because farms have been proven to impact fish populations, the solution has been put in place," Tatar said.

The undersecretary added that including fish processors in the list of beneficiaries was not deemed practicable. "It was found that most Estonian fish processors also use raw material from outside Estonia and from several different sources. That is why it was decided that including them as beneficiaries of the wind farm toleration scheme would overcomplicate things and might not be fair as they also use a lot of fish from elsewhere."

Tatar said that the legislator has the chance to further analyze aspects of the bill.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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