Estonia to restrict wind farm developments

The Supreme Court has decided that it is permissible to restrict wind farm developments following national defense considerations. The court found no unconstitutional aspects in legal acts Toila Rural Municipality relied on when refusing a wind farm construction permit.

At the heart of the matter was the decision of the Toila Rural Municipality to refuse a building permit for the Päite-Vaivina wind farm. Est Wind Power OÜ applied for a permit for 28 wind turbines in March of 2016. The local government refused after the Ministry of Defense failed to coordinate the project, finding that the turbines would jeopardize the operation of a Defense Forces radar system and undermine national security.

Est Wind Power OÜ that belongs to businessman Harry Raudvere challenged the rural municipality’s decision in administrative court that upheld the complaint. The circuit court later arrived at the same conclusion but based on difference argumentation.

The circuit court found legal acts the Ministry of Defense proceeded from when refusing to coordinate the project to be partially unconstitutional. This meant that the ministry had no legal grounds for its refusal and the rural municipality for withholding the building permit. At the same time, the court supported the ministry’s claim that national defense interests might justify a decision not to grant the permit and ordered constitutional review proceedings.

The Supreme Court Constitutional Review Chamber decided on Tuesday that provisions of the Construction Act and the defense minister’s regulation in question are not unconstitutional.

The minister’s regulation that is based on the Construction Act provides criteria for the operational capacity of national defense infrastructure – the radar in this case. The local government cannot issue a building permit if the planned construction work hinders the radar’s operational capacity.

Read more: ERR.EE

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