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Sagada resident questions wind farm’s ill effects

SAGADA, Mountain Province – A resident has questioned the effects of windmills to their ecosystem during the consultation on the proposed wind farm here.

Phil Carbon proposes to construct a 15-megawatt wind farm that will cost $24.8 million along the Pilaw Ridge, between the boundaries of Sagada and Besao towns.

Elder Angela Yocogan expressed alarm that trees will be displaced where the windmills will be erected. Found near the proposed wind farm are springs serving as sources of water for the residents of Poblacion, Sagada and nearby residents of Madongo and Bangaan barangays.

The windmill turbines measuring 80 feet in height and rotor blades 65 meters in diameter create the impression no trees could grow within the area of movement of the rotor blades. It is not determined yet how many turbines will be constructed, said Ruth Owen, president of Phil. Carbon.

Manuel Pogeyed, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) director, who hails from Bangaan, said “local particularities” has to be taken note of by Phil. Carbon in the proposed construction of the wind farm.

The environs of Pilaw Ridge finds fishponds, cows and carabaos pastured to add to the diverse fauna and flora of the watershed. Whether the windmills will harm the lives and health of the animals was forwarded by Gwen Longid of the Sagada-based Tangguyub Peoples Center.

The Pilaw-Ampakaw ridge is path of birds migrating from other countries during the rainy months of August to October.

The bird paths crossing windmills are a major concern in other countries where these could cause injury or death to birds when crossing the windmills.

Should the Sagada-Besao wind farm be constructed, it will be the first to be installed in a mountainous area. The first windmill constructed by the Philippines Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte was along the beach.

Sagada, along with other Cordillera communities, is located within pine tree-clad mountainous area reaching as high as Mt. Pulag’s 2,992 meters above sea level.

Sagada is bounded by the Pilaw-Ampakaw mountain ridge bordering Besao on the west while along the north-west borders lie Abra province and Besao with the mossy Sisipitan and Boasaw watersheds.

The consultation noted requirements of an environmental impact assessment on accordance with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and related laws before a project will ensue in any Indigenous Peoples community.

This will serve as one of the bases for people to decide on whether to give their consent in the building of a project within their community.

Owen said the environmental study will be done by Phil. Carbon before the end of the year.

“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will validate the report done by Phil. Carbon,” Pogeyed said.

Patay Poblacion village chief Billy Baldo said a barangay resolution allowed Phil. Carbon’s exploration to be done but not the actual operations of the wind farm.

Further consultations will follow. (Gina Dizon)