The former Moon Jae-in administration withheld a government-commissioned study that warned of damage to the fisheries industry from the planned construction of tidal wind power plants, a ruling party lawmaker said Monday.
The study by the Korea Energy Agency in March of last year concluded that the initiative of the former administration to build 68 such plants with a combined capacity of 15.6 gigawatts in coastal regions would significantly undermine the livelihoods of over 121,000 residents, according to Rep. Ku Ja-keun of the People Power Party. They generate a combined 3.38 trillion won ($2.37 billion) in annual sales of marine products.
However, the public’s access to the study was soon restricted thereafter, and it was uploaded the following month as a “classified” file to All Public Information in One (ALIO), a finance ministry-operated website where select management information on Korea’s 350 state-run, quasi-governmental entities is available.
Further fanning criticism, in his view, was the former president promoting the prospect of the new power generation method in a public event in Ulsan in May, saying the tidal wind power industry will register a 100-fold growth in the global market over the next decade, all the while he was aware of the study findings.
“The construction of tidal wind power plants was and is still not compatible with the existing fisheries industry, because people simply cannot find a place for fishing activities due to the large plants occupying coastal areas,” Ku said.
The government-driven investment paid little attention to the concerned voices of the fishing industries, a reason why the “growth initiative” was stalled for years, he said.
“The study clearly stated the shortcomings of the government plan, as illustrated by a clear lack of ways to seek mutual growth with fishermen in the regions,” said the lawmaker on the National Assembly’s Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs and Startups Committee. “The places for the construction were shortlisted in detail, but nowhere in the report is any mention of government assistance to offset the expected loss and reduction of income for fishermen.”
The construction of the renewable power plants should undergo a thorough review, preceded by public hearings and assessments of environmental and economic damage, not to mention compensation measures for the fishing industry. “The construction of tidal wind power plants will have a negative impact lasting at least 20 years,” he said. “The government should collect opinions from fishermen whose livelihoods will be directly threatened.”
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