Legal Alert – New Updated limits for Wind Power Projects Requiring Environmental Impact Assessment
The Finnish Parliament approved an amendment to the Finnish Act on Environmental Impact Assessment (252/2017) on 14 December 2018. This amendment will entitle the construction of a wind farm without the need to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process if the project consists of no more than 9 wind turbine generators (WTG’s) or less than 45 megawatts (MW).
Currently, the respective limits for applying the EIA process on wind farm projects are either 10 WTGs or 30 MW. As a result of the amendment, the limit regarding the number of WTGs will remain as 10, but the limit for nominal output will be raised to 45 MW. The purpose is to adjust the nominal output limit to correspond with the standards of modern WTGs, the efficacy of which has significantly improved in the last few years as a result of technological development.
This new amendment providing new limit values will enter into force once the amended act has been formally confirmed by the President of the Republic of Finland. The act was submitted for confirmation on 17 December 2018. In accordance with the Constitution of Finland, the President shall decide on the confirmation within three months of the submission of the act. However, since the amendment was intended to come into effect on 1 January 2019, the presumption is that it will be confirmed as soon as possible.
The new limits are applied to new projects or to significant changes in existing projects that are carried out after the amendment has come into force.
The new limits are not applied if:
- a project’s EIA process has been initiated and the liaison authority for the EIA process, i.e. the local Centre of Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre), has provided a notification of the assessment programme in accordance with Section 17 of the Finnish Act on Environmental Impact Assessment before the amended act enters into force;
- the ELY Centre has discretionally decided that an EIA process will be needed regardless of whether the limits of 10 WTGs or 45 MW have been exceeded or not; or
- a project’s EIA plan has been notified in connection with land use planning in accordance with Section 9 of the Finnish Land Use and Building Act.
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