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Estonian court annuls rural municipality’s refusal to grant building permit to wind farm

TALLINN – The Tartu circuit court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by the Toila rural municipality in the case regarding the construction permit of the Paite-Vaivina wind farm in northeast Estonia.

The court dispute concerned whether or not the Toila rural municipality had the right to refuse a construction permit to the Paite-Vaivina wind farm.

Developer of the wind farm Est Wind Power OU in November 2015 applied for the Toila rural municipality to issue design conditions for the construction of a wind farm in the area. The design conditions were approved the Ministry of Defense and issued by the rural municipality on January 2016.

In March 2016, Est Wind Power OU applied for a construction permit for its wind farm. This time, the Ministry of Defense refused to approve the permit and the Toila rural municipality did thus not to grant one.

Est Wind Power OU made a complaint to the administrative court, which was subsequently granted.

The circuit court ruled that there is not legal basis in the valid law justifying the refusal by the Ministry of Defense to approve the construction project. The court underscored that it shares the ministry’s position that national defense interests could in this case justify the ministry not approving the construction permit; however, the state has not provided sufficient legal basis for it in its legislation. For that reason, the circuit court has initiated constitutional review proceedings in the Supreme Court.

In conclusion, the circuit court supported the position of the administrative court in that the main claim of the appellant had to be granted, but reached said conclusion based on different grounds.

The circuit court decided that while the Toila rural municipality acted in accordance with the currently valid law, the legal acts the Ministry of Defense based its actions on were partially unconstitutional. The second-tier court also decided that the administrative court was erroneous in determining the size of procedure expenses.

The circuit court’s judgement can be contested in the Supreme Court within 30 days.