Opponents to Saaremaa offshore wind farm project voice concerns

A wind turbine.
A wind turbine. Source: Merilin Pärli/ERR

Opponents to a planned large-scale offshore wind farm project off the coast of Saaremaa, Estonia's largest island, made their voices known at an environmental impact assessment public hearing on the Thursday.

Under current plans, an offshore wind farm with 100 turbines would be linked to Saaremaa via a cable, while future wind turbines should start to appear on the horizon in less than a decade's time.

Riin Kutsar, lead expert in environmental impact assessment, said that despite various models and calculations, the estimates and impacts presented in the report should be rather exceed the actual impacts of future wind farms.

"We have taken the worst possible scenario as a basis, which means that the actual impacts could be even lower," Kutsar said.

Liisa Linna, board member of the Karala-Pilguse hoiuala selts, a society representing the Karala-Pilguse nature zone on the West coast of the island, however said: "The public are definitely affected by the visual aspect [of the wind turbines], and by the noise pollution aspect the most."

A court case may be pending.

"In our opinion, there has definitely been a superficial assessment, and many things have been left thoroughly unexamined. A few errors have also been committed, and this can also lead to the fact that we feel it is also necessary to go to court," Linna went on.

Thursday's public hearing in Kuressaare concerned the100 wind turbines planned for the Saare Wind Energy  development off Saaremaa'sWest coast, and off the Sõrve peninsula to the South.

Islanders had previously made 84 counter proposals

However, Saare Wind Energy wind farm developer Kuido Kartau doubled down on the company's stance.

"Even if my best friend lived on the beach, I would see no reason not to continue being friends. I repeat, this location was chosen so as to be as conflict-free as possible, while all studies have shown that it is indeed conflict-free. What has been instead raised is the technical complexity of the construction," Kartau said.

Saaremaa Rural Municipality is also in favor of the wind farms project.

Deputy Municipal Elder Liis Lepik said that it would contribute to the island's economic well-being; estimates put wind farms' contributions to the island's budget at more than a million euros.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Margus Muld.

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