Çeşme is too precious to be sacrificed to greedy “green” profit
A swift action is needed because time is of essence in reversing the continued construction of the wind power plants in Cesme against all objections grounded on legal, moral, health and environmental reasons.
Otherwise, there will likely be serious consequences for the investors, local population and the crown jewel’s natural treasures. International outcry will also become more vocal.
It is not an opposition against the wind-turbines. They are indeed a fact of life, whether we like their silhouette or not, and are expected to help us create a greener and cleaner energy economy. In this vein, Turkey’s goal is to increase its wind energy output to 20,000 MW by 2023 – right on time for the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Turkey. That would represent 30 percent of the country’s energy mix.
If we add the wind farms that are still under construction, we would come to a capacity of approximately 3,500 MW – so a long way to go to meet the ambitious target. The best regions for new generation are along the northern coast of the Aegean, the Marmara region, the western Black Sea coast, and the southern part of Mersin-Hatay Province. That’s over 7,000 kilometers of coastal area.
Although wind energy is considered to be green energy, let’s never lose the sight of the fact that energy is produced for human needs and therefore should be engineered and located in a way that is not detrimental to humans. There is no questioning of wind farms to be constructed on mountaintops away from local populaces and settlements.
Wind turbines in the vicinity of residential areas that upset the natural ecological balance can also cause serious health issues and ruin the aesthetics and value of the land they occupy, as proven through scientific studies. The noise pollution from commercial wind turbines is sometimes similar to a small jet engine. This is fine if you live kilometers away, where you will hardly notice the noise, but what if you live within a few hundred meters of a turbine?
True, modern designs have seen the gear mechanisms and their housings producing progressively quieter wind turbines, and the latest generation of ‘direct drive’, or gearless turbines create even less mechanical noise. In addition, blade design has constantly been refined to reduce the noise generated, which also creates a more efficient turbine as less energy is lost to acoustic energy.
The onus must however be upon the wind energy industry to be honest about any noise concerns local residents might have, and to work with them to minimise these affects and keep their turbines far away from human settlements.
Hence, a blind craze of building one after another wind farms without care to private property, nature’s law, legal and technical conditions is not acceptable, particular in today’s age when residents are well informed and aware of the “energy democracy”. Utmost care should be paid to the preservation of natural wonders, historical sites and holiday resorts where the overall national interests outweigh the relative energy benefit of a few megawatts of electricity to be generated.
Unfortunately, it is often the developer (not the municipality) who gets to commission the entire expert environmental, architectural, acoustic and ecological surveys assessing the proposed turbines’ impact. Is it any surprise that these surveys generally tend to find in favour of the person who has paid for them.
There is a powerful lobbying by the developers (who are keen on quickly capitalizing on their time-bound licence, installing equipments already arrived and dispensing their investment funds) with political groups, regulatory body and judiciary. That is natural from their vintage point but the overall natural good for the country, its people and nature should be above anything else. There is one Cesme which is a most beautiful gem we need to preserve and cultivate.
Indigenous groups are therefore left with no option but engage in relentless legal and political battles to spare their cherished patch of the countryside or holiday resort from ruin. Opposition exposing the limitations of wind technology (both as a system for producing energy and because its massive scale too often threatens sensitive ecosystems and vulnerable nature) cannot be dismissed as ignorant or misinformed.
Public attitudes and responses to wind power producing numerous nuisances that erode quality of life for nearby residences and, in many locations, destroy historically significant natural views, should not be viewed in order to mitigate potential future opposition, but rather in order to understand the social context of renewable energy. Trust is identified as a key issue; however, greater trust must be placed in members of the public and in their knowledge.
Just because there is a potentially better wind condition (and no doubt there is) it does not give the right for investors and contractors to build these turbines in peoples gardens and on hills surrounding the town. This kind of action throws a negative light on our efforts to, as a country to use more sustainable and green energy.
A lack of public consultation, and a twisted ‘there is nothing you can do’ logic in these projects flies in the face of an energy democracy. Even if these projects are stopped, the emotional stress, material and loss of spirit for both the investors and more importantly the people living through this is unacceptable.
Furthermore, within the country, the legal, environmental and health considerations of pursuing this course of action shows a failure to uphold these minimum standards of protection people should expect. Wind turbines financed with private equity or through multilateral financial institutions will strain investors should the law be upheld and the projects stopped.
Therefore, there should be an immediate halt on all wind farm building until all aspects will be reconsidered. Something has gone badly awry with both our wind energy policy and our planning laws.
The clock is ticking and we hope that Ankara will be listening and take an immediate remedial action before it is too late.
For more information please visit: Mehmet Öğütçü at Linkedin