March 9, 2012

Southern town of Raseborg rejects offshore wind park plans

Helsingin Sanomat, 9 March 2012

Neighbouring Inkoo plans to continue to zone for a wind park on its side of the municipal boundary

The southern town of Raseborg, on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, has at least for now managed to put a stop to the planned wind park in the sea area in front of it.
The project had advanced to the stage where the zoning for the offshore wind park was meant to commence, in cooperation with the neighbouring municipality of Inkoo.
In a Raseborg Town Board meeting earlier this week, the outcome of the vote was 6 in favour and 7 against the planned offshore wind turbines.
The result was first reported by the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE.

Dropping the zoning intentions was proposed by Town Board member Mikael Borgman.
His arguments against the wind park included a bird protection cause, noise pollution that would extend all the way to the island of Jussarö (a popular boating destination), plus the negative standpoint of the Defence Forces.
In the opinion of the military, the gigantic wind turbines would interfere with radar surveillance.
The area’s present detailed shore plan forbids all waterfront construction. Borgman expressed astonishment that only a few kilometres further out in the sea, all of a sudden it would be possible to set up wind turbines that can be compared with large industrial facilities.

”This is not about adopting an attitude against wind power. It’s about the location. In our view, wind power could be built by the sides of motorways or in harbours or in other locations that already have an industrial presence”, Borgman reasons.
Despite Raseborg’s negative stand, Inkoo plans to carry on with the zoning of its half of the planned wind park provided that the park’s builder, Suomen Merituuli Oy (a joint venture of Helsingin Energia and EPV Energia Oy), will settle for having only 33 wind turbines in the area, instead of the original 60.

”We will decide on the continuation on Monday, but more than likely we will carry on with Inkoo and, of course, continue to try to sway Raseborg as well”, explains Merituuli managing director Sami Kuitunen.
According to Kuitunen, the halving of the wind park will increase the cost of power transmission when the building and maintenance expenses of the transmission cables are divided between 33 rather than 60 wind turbines.
“Still, even 33 turbines is enough to continue with the project with Inkoo”, says Kuitunen.

In the Uusimaa regional plan there is an area reservation for the Inkoo-Raseborg wind park.
Managing director Kuitunen reckons that Raseborg’s decision is likely to increase uncertainty among other wind power builders as well.
“All 19 regional councils in mainland Finland have reserved, or are about to reserve, areas for wind parks in their regional plans, but does this have any real significance? Apparently not that much”, Kuitunen frets.
“The regional plan makes the construction of wind power possible, but does not oblige anyone to do so. The municipalities themselves have the monopoly when it comes to zoning”, answers planning chief Kaarina Rautio from the Uusimaa Regional Council.

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