PGGM to 'intensify' talks on controversial wind farm project
04 Sep 2012
NETHERLAND - PGGM has said it will intensify negotiations with the local populace in the Mexican state of Oaxaca to resolve a number of issues surrounding the planned construction of a wind farm.
The Dutch asset manager's statement came in response to reports that members of the indigenous population have blocked preparations for the construction of Marena Renovables, which, once completed, would be the largest wind farm in Latin America.
According to Dutch news daily De Financiële Telegraaf, angry fishermen fearing for their livelihoods have sabotaged the construction of an access road and a transformer station.
Recharge, a Norway-based website on sustainable energy, also reported that protesters had started a permanent watch to prevent further road construction.
According to the website, protesters claim project developers unilaterally increased the number of wind turbines at the site from 40 to 132.
In the blustery state of Oaxaca, a number of large wind farms are currently under construction, but their impact for the local population has been mainly negative, according to the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
It argued that developers had failed to consult with the local population and said the wording of the contract had been unclear.
But David Uitdenbogaard, spokesman at PGGM, said: "It is merely a small part of the local population that is resisting the wind farm, and their objections are varied."
He added that the problems were often related to specific tribes or even individual leaders.
"Before we entered the project, an extensive due diligence survey had been carried out, including dialogue with the local population," he said.
"However, the project management will now intensify the engagement to find a reasonable and workable solution for all parties."
Uitdenbogaard also pointed out that Marena Renovables had made additional funds available for the local community social programme.
Last February, PGGM's Infrastructure Fund acquired a 33.75%-stake in the wind farm, a joint venture with the Macquarie Mexican Infrastructure Fund and Mitsubishi Corporation.
The wind farm is scheduled to provide green power to the Mexican bottling company FEMSA and brewery Heineken Mexico from the autumn of 2013.
Author: Leen Preesman