Open Letter to Wind Energy Operators in Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
on 4th May 2013 we had the opportunity to visit Istmo de Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico and to hear views of local people living in the area where wind energy has been harnessed for some years. The area is very windy and further projects are planned.
The concerns by local communities were many and, it seems to us, also well founded. We saw wind turbines which are fenced so that the agriculture in the areas around the turbines is restricted. According to the local people, when they were consulted about the wind energy plans, they wer not told that the use of the land would be restricted this way.
Many of the people we met belong to indigenous communities which are particularly vulnerable to misleading information. There were reports that people were not told what the wind power development would really mean for their land based livelihoods. We were also told about adverse effects on ground water and roads. Because of these and other problems there is now growing popular movement against the wind farms.
There seems to be a risk that wind power will be demonized among people and NGOs working for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. This would not be beneficial to anybody, neither for the wind power companies nor the local communities in question.
We appeal to the wind power companies operating or planning development in the region to reconsider their approach. There is no technical need to restrict the agriculture in large areas around the wind turbines. In Europe we have never seen wind turbines being fenced in the same way in agricultural fields. According to our understanding only the land needed for the foundations of the turbines is needed, the rest of the farming fields should remain in farming, as before.
We are strong supporters of sustainable renewable energy production. In that a leading principle is that the installations and sourcing of raw materials cause minimal harm and create maximum benefit for the local communities. In the case of wind power the best practices include consultation with local communities about the location of installations and sharing of economic benefits via taxes and compensations. To us seems that these best practices have not been applied in Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca.
To conclude we would like to urge the wind energy operators in Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico to change the policy towards the local communities in such a way that also local people can benefit from the wind power production. For the planned sites the best practices should be applied vis-a-vis the local communities. Full consultation, prior consent, conflict avoidance and benefits for the local population must have highest priority.
We are most willing to engage in further dialogue on the topic with all actors.