ORANJESTAD/WILLEMSTAD — Monsignor Luis Secco declared himself openly against a possible arrival of a windmill park in Urirama. It now seems the social protest against the arrival of the windmills is growing. For instance, prior to the perusal of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA) of Urirama, there’ll be a protest march to the Edward Cheung Center for Innovation this evening.
In a reaction on Facebook, Secco (leader of the diocese of Willemstad where Aruba falls under) wrote that in his opinion one should have consulted the Aruban people on the project and the location of the windmills. “It has a negative impact on the environment that affects the beauty of the Alto Vista Chapel and its surrounding. A constant signal of disapproval must be given to those who’ve decided to build the windmills there”, Secco wrote.
Also Rudy Lampe, leader of the political party RED, is against the arrival of the windmills. Just like Secco, opposition party MPE and the local residents from Seroe Pela and Boroncana who voiced their concern on the arrival of the windmills last week in the Parliament, Lamp emphasizes the short distance between the windmills and the Alto Vista Chapel. He states the chapel belongs to the universal heritage of man where people of various religions seek peace and quiet. MEP parliamentarians held a press conference at the chapel yesterday to confirm they are also against the arrival of a windmill park at that location.
Although the first version of SEA that was published last week mainly emphasizes the effects on the environment, it also mentions Alto Vista in the paragraph on ‘Cultural and Historic Elements’. The distance between the chapel and the location of the windmills is only 500 meters. The report mentions that the chapel will not be affected directly by the presence of the windmills but there is a question of an ‘indirect influence’.
“Visitors might notice the changed surrounding of the chapel considering it’s a place of rest, reflection and tourism. After a period of habituation one expects the effect of the windmill park on these aspects will be moderate”, according to the SEA.
The attention for social and economical consequences is rather scanty. Although according to the report, the roads in the surrounding will be improved, the amount of traffic will increase. The largest advantage is the projected annual saving of 40 cubic kiloton on the total fuel consumption of WEB (and a lower CO2-emission of 130 kiloton per year) and the fact that the project will yield four new jobs.
Today the Parliament and parties involved will hold the second meeting on the construction of the windmill park. After the local residents and Aruba Birdlife Conservation (ABC) were heard last week, the parties constructing the windmills – WEB, Elmar, Utilities and Vader Pieter – will be heard today. At seven o’clock this evening, citizens may inspect the SEA from energy consultant Kema by order of Vader Piet in the Edward Cheung Center for Innovation on Sasakiweg. Citizens can then lodge objections against the arrival of the windmill park at Urirama and these will be included in the SEA.
Many protestors make use of Facebook and other media (for instance the appeal in The Morning News) to join the protest march and to mobilize. After an appeal from UA-professor Ryan Peterson, a protest march was organized prior to the perusal of the SEA. This march will begin at 6.30 p.m. on LG Smith Boulevard near the Fatum-building in Eagle and end at the Edward Cheung Center.