Estonian court: Prohibition on stay on Aidu wind farm is valid

Wind turbine at Aidu wind farm.
Wind turbine at Aidu wind farm. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The first-tier Tartu Administrative Court decided with a ruling on Thursday that it will not review the application by the developers of the Aidu wind farm for preliminary legal protection, thus the prohibition on staying in the wind farm's territory is still valid, Baltic News Service reports.

The court ruling has not entered into force and can be contested within 15 days, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said.

The Tartu Administrative Court with a ruling on July 23 decided to accept a complaint by Eleon Green OÜ, developer of a wind farm in the village of Aidu in northeastern Estonia, over a prohibition on stay in the wind farm's territory imposed by the Police and Border Guard Board and has suspended the order of the PPA for 30 days, that is until August 22.

The PPA imposed a temporary prohibition on stay in the territory of the construction site of the Aidu farm at the request of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) on April 19, which was followed by the issuance of an indefinite prohibition on stay on April 26. 

The TTJA issued an order to Eleon Green on April 12 to discontinue construction activity at Aidu. Spokespeople for the TTJA said shortly afterwards that construction work at Aidu had continued despite the order issued to the developer and the warning to impose a penalty payment, and that continuation of the construction activity would entail "irreversible damage."

According to brothers Andres and Oleg Sõnajalg, owners of Eleon Green, their company pointed out in the complaint lodged with  the court that in its order, the PPA did not present a single justification for the imposition of the prohibition on stay and was only referring to the requests of the TTJA and the Ministry of Defence for the prohibition to be imposed. 

"All relevant so-called factual circumstances have been contested by the plaintiff, and the respondent had no legitimate grounds to be guided solely by what was presented in the request for a prohibition on stay as uncontested and truthful factual circumstances," stated the complaint.

Sõnajalg brothers' company is planning to set up 30 units of three-megawatt wind turbines in the territory of a disused open-pit oil shale mine at Aidu in northeastern Estonia. According to the Ministry of Defence, the turbines being built would exceed the allowed height limit. As a result of this, a so-called shadow area may develop behind the wind farm and the wind farm may cause disturbances in the work of radars by generating false targets. 

The multi-faceted clash began when in 2017 the governor of Ida-Viru County asked the rural municipality where the Aidu wind farm is located, Lüganuse, to declare the Sõnajalg's building permits, dating from the previous year, invalid. The brothers planned to construct 30 3-MW wind turbines at the site. When the municipality refused to annul the permits, the governor took the matter to Tartu administrative court, which suspended the permit in May 2017.

Three ministries got involved, the justice ministry which pursued the matter on behalf of the Ida-Viru County governor, the defense ministry, which said Aidu's turbines exceeded the required height and interfered with its radar, and the environment ministry.

In July, the second-tier Tartu Circuit Court upheld the earlier 2017 decision that the permits were invalid. However, last month, the Supreme Court ruled that they were in fact valid, overruling the earlier decisions.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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