By Yang Yuan-ting, Lee Hsin-fang and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporters, with staff writer
Tainan residents yesterday gathered in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei to protest solar energy projects in Tainan’s Cigu District (七股), which they say endanger fish farms, agricultural land and natural habitats.
There should be a binding limit on new projects, they said.
The photovoltaic facilities in Cigu are some of the largest power plants of their type in Taiwan. The government is planning to add more capacity to achieve its net zero emissions goal by 2050.
About 200 protesters participated in the event organized by the Alliance to Save the Lands of Cigu, with some holding up banners that read: “Impose construction limits to stop photovolaitic overdevelopment in Cigu,” among other demands.
The demonstrators marched to the Executive Yuan and dumped clam shells near the building before attending a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan.
Cigu Borough Wardens Association vice president Huan Hsien-li (黃仙立) said that Cigu residents support the government’s energy policy and solar power, but believe photovoltaic installations should not be set up on land used for agriculture.
The government has allowed contractors to develop solar projects in Cigu without enough oversight, resulting in 11.48km2, or about 10 percent of the district’s area, being occupied by solar farms, he said.
Contractors are allegedly planning to develop about the same area for new projects, which would result in about one-sixth of land nationwide used for solar farms being in Cigu, he said.
Yang Hui-chin (楊惠欽), an environmental advocate based in Cigu, said solar farms have been set up on land formerly used for clam aquaculture, adding that the solar sector endangers the wintering grounds of the black-faced spoonbill.
Cigu-based pisciculturist Chiu Chuan-yi (邱創禕), a recipient of the Council of Agriculture’s commendation of excellence for young farmers, said the solar projects cut fish farmers off from feed sources for their fish.
Landowners have their properties rezoned without warning the farmers, leading to the rent for farmland in the district increasing 10-fold, he said, adding that the developments diminish the job prospects for young people.
Independent Tainan City Councilor Chen Kun-he (陳昆和) accused Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) of colluding with private interests for personal gain and urged law enforcement to investigate the projects.
Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has ordered a task force to be convened to deal with farmers’ complaints.
There is a mechanism for community feedback and officials are working with residents to resolve the problems, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) said.
The protesters’ demand for a binding limit on new projects is not feasible, he said, but urged Cigu residents to voice their concerns through the existing mechanisms to help make adjustments to new projects.
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