The Latvian Wind Energy Association (LWEA) is pleased with the court’s decision in favour of the wind energy developer SIA Eolus. It declared that the decision by the Tukums Municipality Council banning the construction of the wind farm was illegal and ordered to correct the ban by issuing a permit for the construction of it. LWEA believes that this decision is a precedent that will promote faster wind energy development in Latvia. At the same time, it is very important both for developers and municipalities to first engage in constructive dialogue so that legal actions are required as infrequently as possible.
“The wind industry followed the lawsuit closely. Undoubtedly, we are pleased that it is positive for the developer. The decision confirms the importance of rational and far-sighted decision making by local government leaders when thinking about regional development. However, it should be emphasized that legal proceedings should be really the last resort, and we believe that a consensus could be reached through negotiations, discussing and finding the most suitable form of cooperation, ”says Andris Vanags, head of the Latvian Wind Energy Association.
It should be reminded that the State Environmental Bureau issued a decision on the Eolus‘ environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the wind farm “Pienava” in 2019, which permitted the construction of 22 wind turbines. In March last year, Tukums Municipality Council rejected the intent, while SIA “Eolus” appealed this decision in court. On 28 July, the Administrative District Court ruled in favour of SIA Eolus and declared the decision of the Tukums Municipality Council illegitimate, as well as instructed the local government to issue a favourable administrative act to SIA Pienava wind (a subsidiary company of SIA Eolus), which would accept the planned project activities of the company.
“The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) includes a detailed assessment of all possible impacts of the wind farm and has involved both the public and the municipality throughout the process. Local governments should not question and reject the decisions made by the most competent Latvian institution – the State Environmental Bureau. This not only sends the wrong signal to the whole wind energy industry but also undermines the confidence and desire of local and foreign investors to implement complex and investment-intensive projects in Latvia. It is also very crucial to improve the understanding of the importance and benefits of wind energy at the national level and to dispel the myths about it, ”adds A. Vanags.
In order to enhance the cooperation of wind farm developers and local governments, LWEA has opened a dialogue with various institutions, including the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia, the Association of Local Governments of Latvia, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Possible solutions to motivate local governments to be more forthcoming have already been discussed, for example, a “profit-sharing” fund in the municipality or an annulment of the transmission and distribution fees for the energy-intensive companies connected directly to a wind farm through a “green cable”.
It has already been reported that the wind farm “Pienava Wind” will consist of 22 wind turbines. The investment would reach about 150 million euros. This would be one of the largest private investments made in the Latvian energy sector so far, creating significant economic and social benefits for Tukums municipality and the country as a whole.