Estonian EconMin: Offshore wind farm won't turn Saaremaa west coast into industrial park

  • 2022-06-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Timo Tatar, deputy secretary general for energy and mineral resources at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said that the west coast of Saaremaa island will not become an industrial park as a result of the offshore wind farm planned to be established 11 kilometers from the coast.

The deputy secretary general said that the development of offshore wind farms will certainly have an impact on the local community on the west coast of Saaremaa as well as on Saaremaa in general. "However, this may not be negative but positive. International research has shown that the development of offshore wind farms offers additional opportunities and not obstacles to the region's tourism sector," Tatar said in a response sent to the Saaremaa rural municipality government.

According to him, not knowing causes fear and discomfort. "To the best of our knowledge, there is no evidence that an offshore wind farm has had a negative impact in terms of a decrease in the number of places of accommodation in any of the offshore wind farm development areas," Tatar said.

According to him, the fear that the west coast of Saaremaa would become an industrial park overnight is unfounded and people should definitely not give up treating Saaremaa as a nature tourism and recreation area. "Rather, it is an opportunity to highlight Saaremaa as a green island that contributes to the development of renewable electricity," Tatar said.

According to him, the impact of infrasound from wind turbines on health has constantly been the center of attention. "However, no scientific evidence has been found that low-frequency noise or infrasound has a greater negative effect than higher-frequency audible noise," he said. According to Tatar, noise is not considered a problem for offshore wind turbines, as the natural noise background on the beach is significantly higher than the noise generated by wind turbines.

Tatar considered the visual impact to be very subjective and did not consider it reasonable to compare it with anyone's profits. "We do not know of any examples where an offshore wind farm has led to the destruction of traditional economic life, the collapse of the value of real estate or even the loss of a valuable human habitat," he added.

According to him, offshore wind farms have not been planned in historic commercial fishing areas and reserve areas have been designated that will not be used until 2027. The deputy secretary general said that in other countries offshore wind farms are being built and have also previously been built in some cases even in NATURA areas, which has been ruled out in the planning of Estonian maritime areas.

"The wind energy development area the west of Saaremaa is quite close to the bird area of the Irbe Strait in a section of about 12 kilometers, but the maritime spatial plan leaves a buffer zone between the wind energy development area and the bird area," Tatar said. He stressed that the impact of wind farms would be thoroughly assessed for both the environment and humans at the stage of the environmental impact assessment, where all participants will have the opportunity to ask additional questions and share opinions.