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Second-tier court dismisses appeal of Hiiumaa wind farm opponents

Tallinn Circuit Court has rejected the appeal of opponents of a large offshore wind farm planned to be built off the coast of the island of Hiiumaa, which sought to have an order issued by the Hiiu county governor adopting the relevant thematic plan to be revoked.

The action to revoke the order of the county governor had been filed by the nonprofit MTÜ Hiiu Tuul, Hiiumaa Municipality, and individuals Inge Talts, Lembit Vainumäe, Kristi Ugam and Igor Prigoda. The appellate court left in force a decision by the first tier court from earlier this year which finds that the appellants have no right of appeal in this case given the circumstances.

The appellate court agreed with the stance of the administrative court that the physical persons have no right to contest the plan to protect their subjective rights. The second tier court found that the administrative court has left none of the main arguments of the appellants unaddressed, has presented its stance with regard to them and has sufficiently substantiated its stance.

“Adopting a plan like this is a difficult process,” said Martin Tamme, an attorney with the law office TGS Baltic which represented the county government. “The interest of the state in developing renewable energy is obvious and has been set out in several strategic documents. There are always people who do not want change, and the wish to stand up for the protection of the nature of Hiiumaa can be understood.

“At the same time, different interests are in balance in the present plan,” he continued. “For instance, wind turbines cannot be erected closer than 12 kilometers from the shore, which means that the visual impact will be correspondingly smaller.” He also noted that imposing further restrictions cannot be ruled out once more surveys are completed.

“However, both the plan and the decisions of two tiers of court leaving it in force constitute a fundamental step toward the materialization of offshore wind farms,” the attorney added.

The thematic plan determining the areas suitable for the development of wind energy in Hiiu County was endorsed by the county governor in August 2015.

Nelja Energia AS wishes to build a wind farm of 100 to 160 wind turbines with an aggregate capacity of 700 to 1,100 megawatts in the Baltic Sea to the north of Hiiumaa. The turbines, with a nominal capacity of 4-7 megawatts, would stand at a distance of about one kilometer from each other, have masts 100-105 meters tall and rotors with a diameter of 130-164 meters.