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Nonprofit to file claim for €1.2 billion if wind farms in northeast blocked

An Eesti Energia-owned wind farm in Narva.
An Eesti Energia-owned wind farm in Narva. Source: (Peeter Langovits/Postimees/Scanpix)

The Wind Energy Association wants the Estonian government to come up with a compromise that would allow for the building of wind farms in Northeastern Estonia and has threatened to otherwise file a claim for €1.16 billion for investments already made and a reasonable return on investment.

The association, a nonprofit linked to the Sõnajalg family, has sent to the government a proposal to search for a reasonable compromise between the Ministry of Defence and wind energy developers to come up with measures which would enable the coexistence of wind energy and national defense capability in the Ida-Viru County region or to adopt a strategic decision to halt all wind energy-related activity in the region based on the principle of equal treatment.

"In the national spatial plan, it has been noted that there are particularly extensive possibilities for the establishment of land-based wind farms in the former mining areas of Ida-Viru, where there is satisfactory wind potential and fewer societal contradictions and environmental restrictions," association management board chairman Andres Sõnajalg wrote in the letter. "Despite the above, the development of wind farms in Ida-Viru County has become impossible due to the opposition of the Ministry of Defence.

"The Ministry of Defense has justified its opposition to the construction of wind turbines with the claim that the turbines will have a negative effect on the Kellavere radar and radio communication systems," the letter continued. "There is no ongoing dispute on the grounds that the wind farms already built are having a similar effect. Likewise, the same effect existed when the approvals related to various wind farms were granted by the Ministry of Defence."

According to the association, the Ministry of Defence has halted the development of a 75-megawattt wind farm at Päite-Vaivina, a 48 megawatt wind farm called Purtse I, the Purtse II and Varja wind farms with an aggregate capacity of 150 megawatts, and the 255-megawatt Vaivara wind farm.

At the same time, wind generating capacities totaling 194 megawatts have already been installed or are under construction in Ida-Viru County.

In a situation in which the construction of wind farms has previously been accepted while the construction of new ones is being prevented, it is not possible for wind farm developers to plan their business activity, plan investments and implement decisions concerning investments already made, Sõnajalg said.

"In a situation like this, it is necessary for the state to adopt a clear stand based on the principle of equal treatment and actual circumstances of fact," he said.

Should the government decide that, for reasons of national defene, the development of wind farms in Ida-Viru County will not be permitted in the future, the government is obliged to compensate businesses for investments already made and a reasonable forgone return on capital.

A tentative estimate puts the size of the potential damage at €1.16 billion, according to the association.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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