Regulator applying for extension of prohibition on stay at Aidu wind farm

Aidu wind farm.
Aidu wind farm. Photo: Matti Kämärä/Põhjarannik

The Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has asked the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to extend the ban on stay on the territory of the Aidu wind farm until circumstances have been determined but said it will allow the developer to carry out all essential activities to do with ensuring safety.

The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority on April 12 issued an order for construction activity at the wind farm to be stopped, and an official of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority delivered the order physically to the wind farm on April 16. By the time the injunction was made, one wind turbine had been erected and another was planned to be erected at the wind farm, the authority said.

In the future, the developer is planning to erect 30 wind turbines at the farm.

The main reason for the issuance of the order is an assessment according to which the construction of the wind farm would pose a threat to national security. The Ministry of Defense has previously said that putting up large wind turbines in said area of northeastern Estonia would interfere with the work of military radars. 

The watchdog is also of the opinion that construction activity by the developer is illegal because the developer of the Aidu wind farm has no valid construction permit. 

The construction permit received in 2013 is no longer valid and the wind farm construction permit issued by the rural municipality government of Lüganuse in 2015 has been challenged in court. In addition, the state as the owner of the land has not issued a construction permit for the wind farm, while the Supreme Court has also clearly prohibited construction.

„Even if the 2013 construction permit was valid, a project has been coordinated with the Ministry of Defense according to which the allowed total height of the turbines is 185 meters from the ground that existed in 2012. The height restriction has already been remarkably exceeded as, according to the information submitted by the developer today, the approximate height of the turbines is 202.4 to 218.4 meters from the ground upon completion,“ Anne-Mai Helemäe, spokesperson for the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, said.

The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board last Friday declared the territory of the Aidu wind farm being developed by brothers Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg off-limits after the developer had refused to comply with an order to stop the construction work.

Helemäe said that construction work at Aidu continued also on Friday despite the order issued to the developer and the warning to impose a penalty payment. „The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has been keeping an eye on the situation, and the state of play we recorded today demonstrated that continuation of the construction activity would entail irreversible damage,“ Helemäe said.

Based on materials forwarded by the regulator, the Police and Border Guard Board imposed a prohibition on stay in the Aidu wind farm from today through April 22.

On Monday, the authority applied for an extension of the prohibition on stay at the wind farm. The prohibition means that further construction is forbidden, but the developer is allowed to carry out the essential activities to ensure safety. Today, the developer has been clearly told that they must ensure safety on the territory but they are not allowed to assemble the blades of the turbines.

According to the on-site inspection carried out by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority and the information submitted by the developer, the turbines 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 Aidu wind farm is planned to be located near Estonia’s eastern border, and the authority said that this is why it is extremely important that the air surveillance radars and radio systems work without failure. „In a situation where early warning systems cannot work as required because the turbines have been built taller than allowed, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has not other option than to stop the construction activity with the help of the police,“ Helemäe said.

The Sõnajalg brothers have planned to erect altogether 30 three-megawatt turbines at Aidu. Andres Sõnajalg said that the plan is to erect two turbines so that Eleon could continue the certification of the new turbines. The brothers have promised a revolution in the current turbine production with the Eleon type turbines and also start conquering foreign markets. They have promised to establish turbine production in East-Viru County.