InfraVest Project of Improper Wind Turbines, Yuanli, Taiwan

A movement against "Crazy" Windmills by the German company InfraVest has forced demolishment of controversial infrastructure and extended to other areas like anti-nuclear power, and agrarian justices movements


Description

In September 2012, residents of Yuanli Township launched protests against a wind turbine construction project by InfraVest, a German wind power company, after learning that the firm intended to build 14 wind turbines, each capable of generating 2,300 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, along the township’s 2km pristine coastline.  Residents formed the Yuanli Self-Help Group(苑里反疯车自救会,AntiCrazyWindmills) as they are concerned about the density and close proximity of turbines to their homes (Note: “crazy” in Chinese pinyin is feng which is the same as for “wind”) [8].  Until January 2013, in all, of the 7,682 residents of Yuanli, 4,281 signed the petition opposing the construction of so many turbines in their neighborhood, and so close to their homes; while scientific reports indicating there could be a correlation between increased health problems and depression and long-term exposure to the low-frequency noise generated.  After Yuanli residents began to physically block InfraVest trucks from accessing the construction site, many students joined the fight. Since September 2012, members of the self-help organization have protested at the Bureau of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Executive Yuan, the Control Yuan and in front of the InfraVest office in Taipei. In April 2013, a group of people also went on hunger strike for 10 days and had to stop after some of them began throwing up blood. In May 2013, Yuanli Self-Help Organization against Wind Turbines proposed appeals to the company and related governmental agencies, claiming that their mission is to protect the development of renewable energy in Taiwan. Members in the group are against nuclear energy, as well as any energy development construction that sacrifices rural residents’ right to their chosen livelihood.  Details can be found at : http://residentsinyuanli.blogspot.com/2013/05/call-from-people-our-appeals.html  and the Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YuanLicarzywindmills Skirmishes involving police and protesters have forced the central government to intervene after police used disproportionate means, and clashes between private security officers and protesters have raised serious questions about the professionalism of the hired guards. Residents alleged that private security officers hired by the company used violence against protesters on 8 June 2013. Meanwhile, InfraVest filed a NT$10 million (US$335,000) lawsuit against seven members of the Yuanli Self-Help Organization. The lawsuit prompted 12 civic organizations, including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Covenants Watch, the Green Party, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance and the Environmental Jurists Association to issue a joint public statement condemning the company for using the law as intimidation. InfraVest also stepped up security by having dozens of security guards on site at all time, where they trail, film, question and prevent visitors, residents and students from going to the beach and embankment and approaching the construction site. 14 college students and 6 residents were charged for coercion offence. ( http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2013/06/17/2003564971) In October 2013, after a 3-month halt, it was reported that InfraVest tried to restart the wind turbine construction one night. Local residents who tried to stop them said construction workers and security guards used violence against them...and one of the residents was hit by a stone. Yuanli Self-Help Group criticised InfraVest and Hi Tan Security (海天保全) for the use of violence, as well as Fei-ling Electronic Engineering (飛羚電機工程) and Taimon (台盟電信工程) - as the subcontractors for the wind turbine pipeline constructions - for being complicit in the incident.( https://business-humanrights.org/en/company-responsesnon-responses-re-impacts-of-planned-infravest-wind-turbines-in-yuanli-taiwan) During the trials, duty lawyers, students and residents all advocated for “safeguarding our hometown and the freedom of speech,” considering themselves as representatives of housing justice. After the Taiwan Miaoli District Court acquitted them of the offence in 2015 (http://news.ltn.com.tw/news/local/paper/894644), the prosecutor appealed to the High Court. On 25 February 2016, the court gave the final verdict of acquittal. (http://www.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/new/20160225/802477/) Also a demonstrator and a village chief now, Chen Hui-ming says, “After the demonstration, IntraVest demolished the wind turbine by themselves, indicating that they know they were wrong. We knew that justice was on our side and we would be acquitted eventually.” Yuanli Self-Help Group said, renewable energy development is an essential part of the energy structure of Taiwan. However, it cannot be “violently achieved.” The wind turbines built by IntraVest were only at the distance of 60 to 250 meters from the neighborhood, which was far closer than the international safe distance of 470 to 700 meters. According to The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, a renowned medical journal, the low-frequency noise produced by wind turbines is likely to provoke wind turbine syndrome. Patients might have problems like sleeping disorder, headaches, dizziness and so on. This was the reason for the residents to protest against those wind turbines. After two years of negotiation, Yuanli Self-Help Group has reached an agreement with the wind energy company. They agreed to demolish the two controversial wind turbines and keep the other two. After gaining victory at the lawsuit, the self-help group will continue urging the government to draft laws to protect the interest of the people. It’s worthy to note that local residents, students, lawyers played their unique roles during the process, while women are also special force in resistances.  Many activities were organized in various forms to help on the accumulation of basic knowledge about the project and the possible impacts, the mobilization and the solidarity of the community.  For example, seminars on energy democracy and electricity liberalization; series of People’s Forum to illustrate information and knowledge about the company, the community and the health impacts as well as the environmental impacts on cost line from the wind turbines; story telling by local residents; forum of grassroots environmental forces; workshop on anti-wind mills; many songs that generated from the protest and as protest to play at the anti-wind mills concerts; documentaries and films. https://www.facebook.com/YuanLicarzywindmills The protest has been linked with the rural community development at the same time soon after the local residents launched protests; therefore the environmental justice movement was connected with the agrarian justice movement.  The Farmer’s Market called “Bow to Land” which promotes peasant farming, green consuming, food sovereignty and local economy was one of the key  supporters during the protests. Later, some other agrarian justice organizations were established after the first period of the protest, like “take the sea wind” (苑里掀海风),“protect yuanli coast” (苑里海线一家亲惜土公田). “Environmental Protection Organization of the Coast Line” (海线一家亲环保协会) was also generated from the protest. It’s also interesting to understand Taiwan’s energy development plan and the related laws, regulations.

Basic Data
NameInfraVest Project of Improper Wind Turbines, Yuanli, Taiwan
CountryTaiwan
ProvinceGreater Taichung
SiteMiaoli County,
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Windmills
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details[Data by 2013]

Location: Taiwan, Miaoli County

Size: Total 43.7 MW

19 Turbines Enercon E70 (14 in Yuanli), later it changed to 10 Turbines according to their website (http://www.infra-vest.com/success1.php?sn=18)

2.3 MW, hub height 64 m, total height 100 m

Windspeed: (64 m) >8 m/s

Yearly reduction of CO2 emissions: ca. 56,126 t

Investment: 1,42357 billion NTD
Level of Investment (in USD)46,000,000.00
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population7682
Start Date21/09/2012
End Date25/02/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesInfraVest Energy Co., Ltd. (InfraVest) from Germany
Relevant government actorsBureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs (Taiwan) 台湾经济部能源局

http://www.moeaboe.gov.tw/

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Executive Yuan, R.O.C (Taiwan)

http://www.epa.gov.tw/mp.asp?mp=epa
International and Financial InstitutionsKfW Ipex-Bank (KFW) from Germany
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersYuanli Self-Help Group (苑里反疯车自救会, AntiCrazyWindmills) [Note: “crazy” in Chinese pinyin is feng which is the same as for “wind”.]https://www.facebook.com/YuanLicarzywindmills
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
College Students
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Note that the law suits was by the company onto the protesters.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
OtherNote that here the loss of biodiversity refers to the loss of birds, etc.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Note here as this is a case that had a long process, so the outcome should be considered in different stages.
1. there is repression over the resistance at the beginning; and it strengthened local participation.
2. After more than one year protest, the negotiated solution is to demolish the two controversial wind turbines and keep the other two in the area.
3. At the end, the activists gained victory of the lawsuit in Feb 2016.
4. We can not see institutional change at the moment, while it might take place in the future.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.It achieved the objectives of demolishing the controversial wind turbines, and the local EJO has developed strongly from the conflict and extended to other areas like anti-nuclear power, and agrarian justices movement.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

[1]The legislation issues of AntiCrazyWindmills
[click to view]

References

[2]2 physicians and a statistician published a significant article in the journal Noise & Health on the “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health.”
[click to view]

Links

[4]Call from the People-- Our Appeals
[click to view]

[5]Wind Turbines Syndrome
[click to view]

[6]「反瘋車」涉強制罪 一審20人全無罪
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[7]「邪不勝正」 19人鐵鍊綁身擋車無罪定讞
[click to view]

[8]苑裡反瘋車自救會 @YuanLicarzywindmills
[click to view]

[3]Wind turbine troubles

A group of residents in Miaoli County has banded together to halt the construction of wind turbines close to their homes. But corporate interests are getting in the way
[click to view]

[9]Company responses/non-responses re impacts of planned... Company responses/non-responses re impacts of planned InfraVest wind turbines in Yuanli, Taiwan
[click to view]

Media Links

[13]苑裡反瘋車自救會要求立即制定風機安全距離 人權會立即開會救苑裡記者會實錄20130903
[click to view]

[17]苑裡反風車設置不當 絕食已九天 能源局外長期靜坐抗議
[click to view]

[10]苑裡反瘋車自救會要求立即制定風機安全距離 人權會立即開會救苑裡記者會實錄20130903
[click to view]

[11]《中天新聞》「苑裡反瘋車」成員攻進經濟部
[click to view]

[12]苑裡反瘋車律師團影片Account from the lawyers
[click to view]

[14]苑裡反瘋車抗爭音樂會-學生們演唱+全體大合唱+總指揮發言
[click to view]

[15]苑裡反瘋車抗爭音樂會-苑裡反瘋車婦女歌唱隊演唱
[click to view]

[16]20130427_苑裡反瘋車_自救會長陳清海被逮捕
[click to view]

Other Documents

Hunger strike at the Bureau of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) In the morning of 18 April 2013, a lawyer was convening a press meeting with around 50 local residents including 4 hunger strikers, advocating "EIA illegal, EIA ineffective, redo EIA".

2013年4月18日,早上8:40約50名鄉親及4位接力絕食者(已272小時)在環保署前召開記者會,由林三加律師主張「環評違法、環評無效、重作環評」。

Behind them is the label saying "hunger strike area-AntiCrazyWindmills, 272 hours" , the banner held by people was saying " We are against the 24 hours noise from wind turbines, the noise will affect 2 km, we do not want Wind Turbine Syndrome", the other banner laying on the floor said "We are against the windmills that are destroying our clean coastline, we have already lost the egret sanctuary, we don't want to lose the coastline anymore".
[click to view]

Other CommentsThere are many other videos and links could be accessed. Here are just some samples.
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ContributorENVJustice, ICTA -UAB
Last update06/04/2017
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