Environment ministry follows defence ministry in calling for Sõnajalg wind farm halt ({{commentsTotal}})

Under-construction wind turbine at the Aidu windfarm last August.
Under-construction wind turbine at the Aidu windfarm last August. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Outgoing environmental minister Siim Kiisler (Isamaa) has demanded the halting of the long-running construction of the Aidu wind farm.

The wind farm, at Aidu, in the Maidla municipality in Ida-Viru County, is the brainchild of the Sõnajalg brothers, entrepreneurs and some-time members of a popular music band.

The two brothers state that they got permission from Maidla municipality in 2013 and that this is still valid.

In July 2018, another ministry, defence, had already said that construction must halt because the permits were invalid, plus the proposed wind turbines would interfere with ministry radars. The brothers said last summer that what appeared to be work on the project, for which they had already been fined, reportedly filmed by ministry drones, was simply ''storage'' activity.

In fact, according to regional daily Põhjarannik, the project is being continued via a company called Eleon Green (formerly OÜ Kindel Vara), which holds the 2013 permit, since their own company, Aidu Tuulepark OÜ, was ordered to cease construction. The brothers say the wind farm, which was started in 2016, should be ready next year.

2015 permit (now suspended by courts) supersedes 2013 agreement

"It appears from the media that the developer has assumed the stance that the building permits granted to OÜ Kindel Vara by Maidla municipality via an order from 27 February 2013 are valid, and thus a basis for erecting a wind farm,'' Mr Kiisler stated in a communication to the Sõnajalgs' companies, BNS report.

''The order in question includes the condition that a building permit does not give the right to build without the permission of the owner of the land unit," the minister continued.

Mr Kiisler furthermore noted that the Ministry of the Environment, as the administrator of assets, has not given permission.

"We would like to draw attention to the fact that the Maidla municipality, on 26 February 2015, issued new building permits, and with that the 2013 building permits lost their conclusive force, which is why construction is not permitted under these permits, ie. for these two reasons," Mr Kiisler's letter went on.

"As the building permits issued in 2013 are not valid, and the validity of the building permits issued in 2015 has been suspended by the court, the construction activity taking pace on the immovable properties is illegal," he added.

Long-running battle

In the contract of building rights, the parties to the contract have agreed that the builder is obligated to perform duties arising from legal acts, and the thematic plan when carrying out the building right; the state as the owner of the immovable property thus is not responsible for the permits, coordination or approvals necessary for the construction on the immovable properties, Mr Kiisler went on.

"Thus, the builder is obligated to ensure that the construction of the wind farm is carried out according to rules set down in legal acts, including under valid building permits," he added, noting this was the reason for the demand that construction activity be suspended until such time as a court decision enters into force, and proceeds on the basis of the court decision, the laws in effect in Estonia, and the contract of building rights established between the parties.

The two brothers have planned to erect altogether 30, 3-MW turbines at Aidu, BNS reports.

Another company which was already in the wind turbine business, Nelja Energia, was acquired by the Enefit Green renewables arm of state electricity provider Eesti Energia, last summer. Enefit Green operates the Paldiski wind farm, to the west of Tallinn.

The brothers' music troupe, called simply ''Sõnajalg'', had a run of success in the 1990s and 2000s with tunes like ''Tulge Kõik''. The brothers' wives, Viivi and Siiri, who make up the four-piece, are also sisters, in fact twins, according to ERR canteen staff.

Editor: Andrew Whyte



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