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Estonian watchdog: Sonajalg brothers may continue Aidu wind farm construction

BC, Tallinn, 15.10.2019.Print version
The Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority said that businessmen and brothers Andres and Oleg Sonajalg may continue with the construction of the Aidu wind farm as the Supreme Court's decision not to handle the appeal against court ruling filed by the Ministry of Justice means that the building permits are valid, writes LETA/BNS.

Aidu wind farm developer Andres Sonajalg said on Monday that Eleon is to restart construction on 28 registered immovables regarding which there are no disputes or proceedings. "We have an effective court ruling confirming the validity of the building permits and we have every opportunity to continue construction according to the project," he added.

"Indeed, their building permits are valid and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority has no competence or grounds to prohibit it. We can currently ban the construction of wind turbines number 4 and 5, where construction has already taken place," Anne-Mai Helemae, spokesperson for the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.

Geotechnical work on the registered immovable of Aidu turbine number 8 started on Monday morning. According to Sonajalg, construction relocated 1.5 kilometers southwest of the previous construction site so as to nip in the bud possible disputes on how high the turbines will be and which ground their height must be measured. 

When asked whether the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority is monitoring the developer's activity or communicating with the developer regarding the compliance of the erected wind turbines with building permits, Helemae said that based on Monday's media coverage, there is no reason for the watchdog to doubt that Eleon would violate the height restrictions or create a cushion of rubble under the wind turbines.

The Supreme Court in September dismissed an appeal by the Ministry of Justice against the ruling of the circuit court whereby a protest submitted in 2017 by the governor of East-Viru County concerning the construction permits of the Aidu wind farm was left unreviewed.

In April 2017, the governor of East-Viru County submitted a protest to the Tartu Administrative Court in which the governor asked for the permits issued by the rural municipality government of Luganuse allowing for Aidu Tuulepark OU to construct a wind farm in the area to be annulled. The top tear court thus upheld a ruling by the Tartu Administrative Court according to which the protest, which came two years after the permits had been issued, was submitted with a notable delay.

According to the county governor's protest, the  structures of the Aidu wind farm are in contradiction with the thematic plan and the preliminary design endorsed by the Ministry of Defense, they are not consistent with the building permits issued by the municipality, and the erected structures continue to be significantly higher than their endorsed heights. 

The administrative court on April 29 decided to leave the protest unreviewed. The Ministry of Justice contested the first instance court's ruling, which the Tartu Circuit Court dismissed on June 26.

The administrative court said in its ruling of April 29 that the governor of East-Viru County significantly exceeded the 30-day time limit for submitting a protest with regard to the issuance of the construction permits. According to a ruling by the Supreme Court made in the same case on Jan. 17, the time limit does not start with the county governor becoming aware of the unlawfulness of the administrative act.

According to the administrative court, the county governor must have been aware of the issuance of construction permits as well as their content as early as in the summer of 2016.

As the Supreme Court does not grant leave to appeal, the ruling made by the Tartu Administrative Court on April 29, whereby the permits issued by the Luganuse rural municipality government to Aidu Tuulepark OU for the construction of a wind farm are valid, will enter into force.

The Tallinn Administrative Court is also handling a case in which Aidu wind farm developer Eleon Green, owned by the Sonajalg brothers, and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority are engaged in a dispute over the legality of the construction of the wind farm.

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