Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not In My Baltic Sea! Finns up in arms as E.ON plans 1000 MW wind farm

Helsingin Sanomat, the Finnish daily national newspaper reported this week that a Swedish subsidiary of the European energy giant, E.ON is planning on developing a 1000 MW offshore windfarm in the Baltic Sea near the Åland Islands (Ahvenanmaa in Finnish).

300 turbines are proposed to be built approximately 100 kilometres South of the tip of the Åland Islands. The generation would be fed into the marine transmission cable which is planned between Sweden and Lithuania.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Authority has recently informed the Finnish environmental authorities that the project's environmental impact assessment has commenced.

Unfortunately, Finland has generally taken "Not In My Back Yard" approach to windfarm development. Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Finnish Ministry of the Environment is expressing concerns that the project poses a significant environmental impact to Finland and will likely request to participate in the environmental impact assessment.

In addition, the Finnish Ministry of Environment is already expressing concerns the project would pose significant risk to the flyways of migratory birds.

Furthermore, in what would seem to me to be an incredible stretch of the current state of scientific knowledge, the Finnish Ministry of Environment is indicating that the proposed project "would affect water quality" in the Baltic Sea.

I can already anticipate challenges with this project as the Åland Islands have an autonomous status and the powers exercised at the provincial level by representatives of the central state administration in the rest of Finland are largely exercised by the Government of Åland in Åland. By act of law, Åland is exclusively Swedish-speaking, with over 90% of the population speaking Swedish as their native language and only 5% speaking Finnish.

The Åland Islands were part of the Kingdom of Sweden from the early 13th century until 1809, when Sweden relinquished Åland and Finland to Russia. The Russians quickly incorporated Åland with Finland. When the Russian empire disintegrated, the League of Nations decided in 1921 that Finland should receive sovereignty over the Åland Islands.

The full article is available in Finnish in the Helsingin Sanomat below:


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