Residents of the Western Estonian island of Kihnu are not satisfied with the way preparations have begun for the construction of an offshore windfarm in Pärnu Bay by Enefit Green, the renewables subsidiary of the Estonian state-owned energy group Eesti Energia. Island residents believe that the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) has not adhered to all necessary procedures in drawing up an environmental impact assessment.
“We were frustrated by the activities of the TTJA – how it has operated in disclosing the wind farm’s environmental impact assessment program,” Kihnu Municipal Mayor Ingvar Saare said on Vikerraadio morning program “Vikerhommik” on Tuesday. “We believe that the community in Kihnu and Häädemeeste, which are closest to the wind farm, have not been sufficiently included.”
Saare explained that an environmental impact assessment must be drawn up in order to build the wind farm, which in turn requires the drawing up of an environmental impact assessment program which includes studies that must be conducted in the framework of the environmental impact assessment. If these studies are not listed, the developer will not conduct them.
The TTJA issued its program proposal on March 12, exactly when the emergency situation in Estonia began, and it lasted through March 31. On March 30, Kihnu Municipality proposed extending the proposal, but this proposal was not taken into consideration, Saare said.
For another thing, the municipal mayor continued, the TTJA did not fulfill the requirement to physically publicly distribute this information – by posting it on a public info board, for example. The authority sent the local government a reference including a link to a notice, but the link didn’t work, he added.
“If we’re talking about a billion-euro project, it’s been off to a very rough start,” Saare said.
According to the municipal mayor, there has also been some confusion regarding the height of the planned wind turbines. While the turbine towers were initially to be 80-85 meters high, making for a combined height together with their blades of approximately 125 meters, there has since been talk of 300-meter-high wind turbines.
It is likewise yet unknown what effect the noise and vibrations generated by the wind turbines will have on fish populations in Pärnu Bay. Fishing, however, is one of Kihnu’s primary areas of activity.
Wind turbines generate visual pollution too, Saare noted, citing the Varbla turbines visible from the island despite being located 39 kilometers away. The planned new turbines, in comparison, are to be located just 10 kilometers from Kihnu.
This means that the owner of the wind farm should compensate for damages incurred to local life, he said. “We’re not against [building the wind turbines]; rather, we want all of these aspects to be analyzed in the framework of the environmental impact assessment,” he stressed.
Enefit Green is planning an offshore wind farm of up to 160 turbines and with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts near the island of Kihnu.
“If this wind farm is built, then we will be building a second Ida-Viru County, just this time into the heavens,” Saare said.