Utility Tractebel Energia has been told to stop work on a wind-farm project in Brazil – partly on the grounds that it would harm the trade in dune-buggy rentals to tourists.
A judge ordered an immediate halt to construction of the 25MW Trairi wind farm on a “sunset dune” site in Flecheiras, Ceará state, after backing a lawsuit claiming it would damage a natural asset and the local economy.
The lawsuit is the latest escalation of an increasingly aggressive campaign by the federal prosecutor’s office in Ceará, which has gone after several wind farm projects being built on sand dunes, forcing developers away from the coastline and further inland where capacity factors are lower.
Another three 30MW wind farms are being built by Tractebel nearby, raising the prospect that they could also come onto the prosecutor’s radar.
Tractebel Energia, a subsidiary of International Power-GDF Suez, will be fined R$500,000 ($280,000) a day if it does not comply with the order to halt Trairi’s construction.
The prosecutor called the site “a postcard” of Flecheiras and the source of income for “bugueiros,” who rent out buggies for tourists to careen around the dunes, particularly at sunset. About 800 local people signed a petition against the wind project.
Trairi is due to come online by December. Siemens is supplying 2.3MW turbines to the wind farm and the three nearby projects, as well as a fifth Tractebel development of 30MW in Piauí.
Output from the wind farms has been sold on Brazil’s unregulated power market.
The judge’s decision suspends a licence issued to Trairi by the state’s environmental regulator, backing the prosecutor’s claims that the project breaks forest-code legislation covering protected sites.
Federal prosecutor Igor Pereira Pinheiro says that the next step is to “adapt the construction in a way that attends the community as well as the project”.
Tractebel has not so far commented on the decision.
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