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Legal alerts / 8 Sep 2015

Legal Alert – Reference Values for Wind Turbine Generator Noise and New Government Bill for Amending the Finnish Feed-in Tariff Act

During the past years noise caused by wind turbine generators has been one of the main issues relating to wind power construction. The Finnish Government has issued on 27 August 2015 a Decree on Reference Values for Wind Turbine Generator Noise.

So far two different reference values (the Ministry of Environment’s guidance of 2012, and Government’s decision of 1992) have been applied for Finnish wind power projects. The new Decree on Reference Values provides that the noise of wind farms shall not exceed 40 dB at night and 45 dB at day in outdoor areas of permanent or holiday residential areas. The reference value at educational institution and recreational areas shall not exceed 40 dB during daytime. The reference value set for national parks is 40 dB, which applies both to day and night time. These reference values set out in the Decree are stricter than those provided in the Government’s decisions made in 1992.

The Government Decree on Reference Values for Wind Turbine Generator Noise came into force on 1 September 2015. The Decree will be applied to all plan proposals under the Finnish Land Use and Building Act and permit matters in accordance with the Finnish Environmental Protection Act which becomes pending after the effective date of the Decree. The Decree does not apply to those wind farms which have already received an environmental permit or a building permit on the effective date of the Decree. However, the Decree applies to environmental permits which have been permitted before the effective date of the Decree but are modified after the effective date of the Decree. The Decree does not apply to plans if a plan proposal has been presented or the plan is made available for public inspection on the effective date of the Decree. The same applies to pending environmental permits subject to a public notice on the effective date of the Decree.

The Government Decree is available in Finnish on the Ministry of Environment’s website.

THE FINNISH FEED-IN TARIFF SYSTEM FOR WIND POWER WILL BE CUT

The Finnish Government has introduced a Bill (HE 15/2015 vp) to the Parliament for amending the Finnish Act on Production Subsidy for Electricity Produced from Renewable Energy Sources (the “Feed-in Tariff Act”).

The Bill proposes that the feed-in tariff system for wind power plants will be closed when the total capacity of wind power plants having been accepted to the tariff system or having received a quota decision first exceeds 2,500 MVA. In the future, the approval of a wind power plant into the total capacity of the feed-in premium scheme 2,500 MVA would require a quota decision which is in force for two years, however, not beyond 1 November 2017.  Contrary to the current situation, if a project having received a quota decision is not implemented, the quota will not be released again for other applicants.

The Government Bill is available in Finnish on the Parliament’s website. The new Act is expected to enter into force as soon as possible.

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