With reference to George Meko’s letter, “Wind farm will benefit community” (October 21), I acknowledge that the proposed benefits to the poor and disadvantaged communities that Meko refers to, as a result of the envisaged profits generated, is a most laudable initiative. It is an utter disgrace that we have poor and underprivileged people in our democracy having to exist in such deprived and hopeless circumstances.
Unfortunately, our “bankrupt and incompetent” metro cannot satisfy the service delivery needs of such communities. That big business is coming on board through initiatives such as these is refreshing and uplifting.
We must realise, however, that the profits referred to are generated because Eskom is paying a premium for the energy generated from wind power, equivalent to R1.15/kWh. Considering that NMBM pays considerably less than this for the power that it purchases from Eskom and that the average domestic consumer pays more or less R1.05/kWh before VAT for his or her electricity consumption, who subsidises the difference?
Why, the taxpayer, of course.
As much as Meko would seem to lead us to believe the wind farm developers are philanthropic and altruistic, it is a condition of their licence granted by the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) to generate electricity, that a portion of their proceeds from their power generation must be utilised for the upliftment of poor and underprivileged communities. From this, we can quite reliably deduce that this cost has been factored into their profitability projections and that it must nevertheless be a sufficiently attractive business proposition to make it worthwhile.
So, the developers and the person who leases the land to the developers make money, and the underprivileged communities benefit, as they should. Who are the losers?
The Blue Horizon Bay community, because to bring all this about, their guaranteed constitutional rights have been well and truly trampled upon.
Meko states that, despite the submissions to Nersa, the opposition to the project was “overruled”. This is true, but it is important to realise the Nersa decision was based on the decision of the Environmental Affairs Department to authorise the final environmental impact report that is the subject of current legal proceedings.
These proceedings are based on the fact that the “select few” referred to by Meko have been mandated by 372 Blue Horizon Bay residents to oppose the wind farm construction. This is based on the assertion that the community was not consulted as is required by the National Environment Management Act.
Therefore, when residents were first made aware of the proposed development, a public meeting was held where residents were told the project was a “done deal”. Further decisions were then taken without any consultation with residents, to increase the overall height of the turbines and to drop the requirement that no turbine should be closer than 900m from the nearest dwelling.
Meko also wrote that the mandated anti-wind farm group “was the only one in the Eastern Cape opposing construction of such a national project”. Surely he must appreciate that it is probably the only wind farm that is built in such close proximity to an established, permanent community that also happens to be situated in a declared nature conservancy.
The visual impact report submitted by the environmental assessment practitioner concluded that the Van Stadens/Blue Horizon Bay site was the least suitable site of the three considered. The site previously considered at Bushy Park was vigorously opposed by concerned residents who had the opportunity to voice their concerns and exercise their rights in a properly constituted public participation process – rights that we assert were denied Blue Horizon Bay residents by a seriously flawed consultation process.
Bob Bell, Blue Horizon Bay
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