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Fishers from Yunlin county criticize wind turbine project

Yunlin County-based fishers yesterday called on the Wpd Taiwan Energy to build its proposed offshore wind turbines farther away from coastal fishing areas and to stop threatening local fishers.

Wpd has been one of Taiwan’s major wind energy developers since it bought InfraVest Wind Power in 2016, including a projected windmill farm with 80 offshore wind turbines.

The turbines would be located in waters 8 to 17km off the nation’s west coast and produce 640 megawatts (MW), the company’s Web site showed.

The fishing industry is by no means against the national policy to transition to green energy, but the fishers demand transparency of the project, said Lee Ping-shun (李平順), chairman of a coastal fisheries association in the county.

The fishers had been unaware of how the project’s construction would affect their livelihood, Lee said, adding that coastal waters are the natural habitat for many fish species that fisheries rely on.

Lee said the company should not establish turbines within 5.5km off the coast or where the water is less than 30m deep, while also calling on the company to refrain from using large machinery to drill into the seabed.

The association also called on Wpd to notify residents of the construction schedule, and offer compensation to those who are affected.

Citing a previous incident in which a subcontractor of Wpd allegedly hired people to disturb a round of negotiations, local fisher Lin Chuan-fa (林全發) said the incident damaged Wpd’s credibility, even if the company later terminated its relationship with the subcontractor.

Fisher Hsu Chin-yuan (許秦源) said that his family had been in the business for three generations, and he earned an average of NT$600,000 for his monthly catch, but after Wpd started construction, he has earned significantly less, as low as NT$80,000 last month.

Hsu said that the company had already started construction by the time he learned of the project.

“I was completely in the dark as I had not heard about any public hearings being held on the issue,” Hsu said, adding that he and other fishers were at a loss of what to do.

Environmental Rights Foundation Taichung director Chung Han-shu (鍾瀚樞) said that there was a lack of communication and the project was procedurally flawed.

Chung called on the government to help resolve the issue and help find a balance between safeguarding fisher’s livelihoods and protecting the environment, including policies to transition to green energy.