Explanations by the Ministry of Defence to Aivar Kokk and Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg regarding the statements of 25 April 2019 concerning the development of Aidu Wind Farm.
Aivar Kokk published the opinion piece, entitled „Kas riik reageeris Aidu tuulepargi saagas üle?“ in Eesti Päevaleht.
1. ‘The Ministry of Defence began the fight against Eleon’s windmills, since their blades are a few metres longer, even though tower heights remain within the 135 m limit’.
The Ministry of Defence did not initiate court proceedings against the Aidu Wind Farm in 2017, instead it was the Mayor of Ida-Viru County, who submitted a claim for annulment since they were not lawful (they had not been approved as required by the Ministry of Defence). In 2012 the Ministry of Defence approved the preliminary design for the construction of a wind farm using Vestas type windmills, in which the maximum permitted height of the windmills from the ground was up to 185 m. Construction never began on the basis of this project, which was the only construction project approved by the Ministry of Defence. The approved preliminary design specified the maximum height of the structure above the ground, which was 185 m (including a tower of 135 m and the tip of the rotor blade reaching up to 185 m). The Eleon windmill built in the Aidu Wind Farm, the construction of which the Ministry of Defence has not approved, has a total height of 220 metres. In the case of windmills the important factor is not only blade length and tower height, but the working area of blades, and in the case of the Eleon windmill it is more than 3000 square metres bigger than that of a Vestas windmill. This is a significant difference. The Eleon windmills erected in Aidu are, without precedent, the tallest windmills in Estonia. Other windmills in the region are up to 70 metres lower.
2. ‘Officials were unconvinced by the analysis ordered from NATO certified experts stating that the Eleon type windmills are safer to radar and signals intelligence than Vestas'.
The referenced analysis also stated that the effects of Eleon windmills are greater in certain important aspects. The level of electromagnetic noise created by bigger windmills is greater. Depending on the size of the windmill, the effect also extends higher. In terms of these aspects alone, the effect of 30 Eleon windmills is greater than that of the previously planned 33 Vesta windmills.
3. The Sõnajalgs promised to erect slightly lower windmills; however, the Ministry of Defence then changed its rhetoric and instead sought to completely ban the construction of windmills at Aidu, and initiated legal proceedings against the entrepreneurs'.
The court proceedings against the Aidu Wind Farm were not initiated by the Ministry of Defence, but instead by the Mayor of Ida-Viru County, to prevent the erection of an unlawful construction work. The Ministry of Defence has explained to the developer that the Ministry can only participate in a lawful proceeding.
4. ‘In this matter both parties believe in their righteousness, but the only one that is not prepared to compromise is the official’.
Since 2016, a wind farm development workgroup, which takes into consideration the security needs of the state, has been operating within the Ministry of Defence Ministry under the co-management of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the membership of which has also included the developer’s representatives, including Andres and Oleg Sõnajalg. The workgroup mapped national defence restrictions on windfarms and compensation measures for alleviating those restrictions, including in Ida-Viru County. The workgroup also submitted the results of its work at a Cabinet Meeting of the Government of the Republic. The workgroup held that in order to alleviate national defence construction restrictions it would be necessary to install additional monitoring systems, which would be accompanied by significant additional cost. No funds have been set aside in the state budget to make investments of this type. The Ministry of Defence has been as open as possible with the developer’s representatives in terms of the handling of the topic and the discussing of technical details.
5. ‘Security is important and the efforts of the Ministry of Defence must be understood, but it must be made clear how much of a threat these windmills, which were previously approved, actually pose. The rest of the world is full of windmills'.
In other countries with a meaningful wind energy sector, construction restrictions have been established for wind farms, which have been relaxed by regions through the installation of additional monitoring devices. The effect of wind farms on primary radar is a well-researched topic, the effect of which, based on the example of the Aidu Wind Farm, has also been proven by the expert analysis ordered by the developer and referenced by Aivar Kokk. Unlike Central and Western Europe, Estonia must ensure the operational capacity of its signals intelligence stations, since countries surrounded by NATO countries have no need for early warning systems. Estonia’s eastern border is also NATO’s exterior border, which means that our early warning systems are important to the entire alliance. For the Ministry of Defence, the situation poses an immediate threat, with any deficiencies in the radar image or signals intelligence system creating a situation where we are unable to ensure the necessary advance warning for military defence in accordance with the established minimum requirements. In the case of a reserve army model (the mobilisation and formation of a reserve army requires more time than the implementation of a force in a permanent state of readiness), timely advance warning in terms of military capability is of vital importance.
6. ‘One also cannot overlook the fact that Eesti Energia has 17 windmills with a maximum height of 149 metres in Narva, only a few kilometres from the border, against which the Ministry of Defence has not lodged any complaints'.
The impact of a wind farm on the monitoring system depends on how far the wind farm is from the monitoring equipment and how tall the windmills are. The Narva Tuhavälja Wind Farm does not fall within the direct field of view of radar, since the windfarm is located more than twice as far away as the under construction Aidu Wind Farm. The windmills are also significantly lower (nearly 70 metres), than the completed 220 metre windmill at the Aidu Wind Farm. The working area of their blades is also half that of the Eleon windmill. The size of the windmills at the Aidu Wind Farm is unprecedented. No region in Estonia has been designated as a prohibited area when it comes to the construction of wind farms; however, in the case of the construction of each wind farm indicators are assessed depending on the proximity of the wind farm to monitoring systems and the size of the windmills.
Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg appeared on ERR.
7. ‘The Ministry of Defence has approved the Aidu Windfarm on three occasions'
During the current period the Ministry of Defence has never approved a wind farm conforming to the parameters of the one currently being constructed by Eleon Green OÜ. The Ministry of Defence has granted two approvals in connection with the Aidu Wind Farm: On 30 December 2010, the Ministry of Defence did approve the thematic plan ‘Location selection for the significant spatial impact generating Aidu Wind Farm, its supporting infrastructure and recreation areas and shooting range’ of Maidla Rural Municipality's comprehensive plan. On 3 April 2012, the Ministry of Defence approved the preliminary design for the Aidu Wind Farm: ‘The 33 electric windmills at Eesti tuuleelektrijaam II, draft project for the construction of electric wind mills, power transmission lines and substation construction with a total capacity of 100MW (Aidu Wind Farm)’. In the approved project, the specified maximum height of the electric wind mill above the ground was up to 185 m (the maximum height of the electric wind mill’s tower is up to 135 m and the reach of the tip of the rotor blade up to 185 m). The local government has never issued a construction permit based on this approved draft project. The approval of a thematic plan is not sufficient for the existence of a legal building permit.
8. The right to conduct supervision is only granted to local governments
This claim is untrue. Clause 130 (3) 2) of the Building Act prescribes that, pursuant to subsection 130 (2) the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has the right to exercise state supervision over the construction of construction works or the detailed plan for the building design documentation, the local government’s designated spatial plan, design criteria or other requirements arising from the location of the construction work. The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority also has the right to control the construction work or the conformity to construction requirements, and the notification regarding construction works or the existence of a building permit and the conformity of the data entered on it, to reality. Clause 130 (3) 2) of the Building Act prescribes that the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority also has the right to intervene in construction activity in parallel to a local government during construction. The state supervisory competency of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority was specified in the Riigikogu during the proceedings on the Building Act. It is noted, among other things, in the explanations submitted in regards to the proposals for amending the Building Act that the right of discretion to also intervene in pre-use supervision has been left to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, if so justified by questions of safety. In the court ruling regarding administrative matter No. 3-17-911, the Supreme Court has also confirmed the authority of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.
9. The Aidu development has a valid building permit, all plans, approvals and confirmations have been obtained, along with the fact that they are valid
The building permits issued to Eleon Green OÜ (formerly Kindel Vara OÜ) by Maidla Rural Municipality in 2013, under which construction is currently taking place, are not valid. The validity of those permits ended when the construction activity failed to begin within a period of two years as of the date of issue of the building permits.
Aidu Tuulepark OÜ has repeatedly disclosed this within the framework of administrative matter 3-17-911.
Interim relief has been applied in administrative matter No. 3-17-911, and the building permits issued to Aidu Tuulepark OÜ have been suspended, i.e. the validity of building permits issued under Lüganuse Rural Municipality Government Order No. 59 of 26 February 2015, Order No. 86 of 3 March 2015 and the building permits issued under those orders until the entry into force of the court judgement or other court decision ending the proceeding.
10. Eleon Green has the approved project
Construction never began based on the preliminary design approved in 2012. Construction began, without the approval of the Ministry of Defence, on the erection of much larger windmills.
11. The plan only established the height of the tower, which is the height of the structure. Besides that there is the blade, the height of which is always changing since it is spinning. In the case of Eleon, 116 metres is the height of the blade, but this is a technical parameter.
There is no windmill without blades. Therefore, it cannot be said that a blade is not part of the structure of a windmill. Without blades there is no windmill, only a tower. Based upon the preliminary design, which is the only construction project approved by the Ministry of Defence, the specified the maximum height of the structure above the ground was specified, which was a combined 185 m (including a tower of 135 m and the tip of the rotor blade reaching up to 185 m).
Further information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee