Wind farm protesters stage sit-in at Economic Ministry

04/16/2014 06:39 PM

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) More than 20 members of a group opposed to the building of wind turbines in Yuanli Township, Miaoli County stormed the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and staged a sit-in protest Wednesday at the ministry's inner courtyard.

They did not disperse until MOEA Vice Minister Shen Jong-chin promised to hold a meeting to discuss their grievances.

A wind turbine construction project planned for coastal areas of the township has incited a series of protests among local residents, and the stalemate has not been resolved.

During the sit-in, some 20 protesters against the project accused the MOEA of having twice extended a permit for the construction by Germany's InfraVest Wind Power Group without consulting township residents.

Protesting residents and their supporters are concerned about the density and close proximity of turbines to their homes and provided scientific reports indicating that there could be a correlation between increased health problems and depression and long-term exposure to the low-frequency noise generated by the turbines.

The protesters asked the ministry to come up with a mandatory safe distance between wind turbines and residences. "No to black-box operations!" they chanted during the sit-in. Police did not intervene.

In response, Shen promised that a mediation meeting with objecting residents will be held within a week to discuss the legitimacy of a previous meeting in which the MOEA approved the extension of a permit for the construction without consulting the residents.

The MOEA said this was not the first time protesters against the project had broken into the ministry. Two months ago, they also barged in and staged a sit-in in the courtyard before being dispersed by police.

(By Liu Jian-bang and Evelyn Kao)ENDITEM/J

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