Residents from Miaoli County’s Yuanli Township (苑裡), on the 11th day of a hunger strike, rallied yesterday outside the Executive Yuan, protesting against a project to build wind turbines near their homes.
“I want to stress that we are not against green energy solutions. In fact, we fully support them,” said Chen Hui-ming (陳薈茗), a resident whose father coughed up blood 10 days into the hunger strike.
“We are just asking the government and the building contractor to respect us local residents, include us in the negotiations, and keep a safe distance between our homes and the wind turbines,” Chen said.
The Germany-based wind energy firm, InfraVest GmbH, plans to build 12 new wind turbines along the coast of Miaoli County – six in Tongsiao Township (通霄) and the other six in Yuanli.
Worried about potential negative impacts from the turbines and upset that they were not consulted about the project, Yuanli residents have launched a campaign asking InfraVest to revise its plan about half a year ago.
While InfraVest initially suspended construction because of the protests, the project was resumed earlier this month without any agreement having been reached with residents earlier this month, triggering a larger protest.
“InfraVest and the county government said they have held briefings for residents, but the truth is, I’ve lived here all my life and I never received any notice about the briefings,” said Cheng Teng-kun (鄭登坤), who joined the hunger strike seven days ago.
“We checked the meeting records and found that only 18 people in the four affected communities took part. I suspect there’s a secret deal between the county government, the township office and InfraVest,” he said.
Cheng said that according to InfraVest’s plan, some of the wind turbines would be as close as 100m to 200m to residential buildings, adding that he was worried about the noise and electromagnetic waves that they could engender.
“I’ve read that in some countries, wind turbines must be at least 1km away from residential buildings,” Cheng said.
No official responded to the protest, and the demonstrators vowed to continue their campaign.
In a written document, Infra-Vest said there is no law in any country stating how far a wind turbine must be from a residence, and that noise could be reduced or controlled.
It added that the electromagnetic waves produced by wind turbines are lower than those produced by electronic appliances, such as microwave ovens.