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Residents rally against wind energy

Dozens of residents of Yuanli Township (苑裡), Miaoli County, yesterday rallied in front of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) against a wind turbine project they say is too close to their homes and violates the minimum distance required by the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Some held piglets, others were accompanied by dogs on leashes and some held white banners with messages such as “the low-frequency electromagnetic radiation and noise from the wind turbines damages health.” The protesters shouted. “EPA, toughen up! Return the land to us.”

They said they were concerned that turbines built so close to their homes would even affect their pigs and dogs and that they would be hit if the turbines fell over.

Chen Hui-ming (陳薈茗), a representative of the local self-help association against the turbines, said that the German wind-power firm InfraVest GmbH had violated the safety distance that it had guaranteed in the EIA report.

“The Environmental Protection Administration is neglecting its duty to monitor the project and make sure it is done properly,” Chen said.

There were many flaws in the EIA’s evaluation, such as the company neglecting its responsibility to communicate with nearby residents, but the EPA still allowed the project to win EIA approval, Chen said.

The residents also questioned whether the EPA’s equipment was able to accurately measure the distance between the turbines and their homes, Chen said.

Environmental Inspection Deputy Inspector-General Yang Su-er (楊素娥) said the EPA’s new equipment, purchased this year, was capable of precisely measuring the proper distances for this project.

The protesters later went to the Control Yuan to present a petition asking for an investigation into whether the EPA and the Bureau of Energy had ignored their duties to ensure that InfraVest builds the turbines according to safety principles.

The association staged a protest at the EPA two weeks ago, asking it to fine InfraVest for violating required safety distance requirement and to reconduct the EIA.