Different country, same story. Lip service to public consultation, attempts to buy off communities, health and environmental impacts ignored and blatant disregard for community concerns.

This is the first of three guest posts from a Slovenian wind awareness group, the Civil Initiative for the Protection of Senožeška Brda(http://www.senozeska-brda.si/). Slovenia is about one quarter of the size of Ireland and currently has virtually no wind energy. But already there are strong parallels with our own experience – lip service to public consultation, attempts to buy off communities, health and environmental impacts ignored and blatant disregard for community concerns.

PART 1: WIND ENERGY IN SLOVENIA

The future plans of our government is to build a wind factory in our region (Senožeče and nearby villages) in Slovenia. There is a bad national policy as far as wind energy is concerned in Slovenia. There are even no laws encompassing wind turbines (turbines) and what is even worse the Noise Act and all our legislation do not mention turbines.  Besides, our Noise Act does not recognize low-frequency sound and infrasound as noise at all (only dBA measurements). So when the noise measurements were done here, they showed that turbines were not disturbing. Yet, they are disturbing and harmful to health.

There are two big turbines in Slovenia:

The first one (Enercon E70 2.3 MW, hub height 98 m, rotor diameter 71 m) is situated on a hill approximately 1km away from the residents at Dolenja vas near Senožeče (all in the Municipality of Divača).

The second one (Enercon E44 0.9 MW, hub height 55 m, rotor diameter 44 m) is located only 300 m away from people’s homes in Razdrto, some 6 km on the other side of Senožeška Brda (Hills), but is currently not operating due to the technical reasons (nearby transmission line destroyed by extremely thick glaze ice in winter 2014 – see below).

Slov

 

Regarding wind energy (and other renewable energy sources) the National policy follows up the European directive 2009/28/ES (23rd. April, 2009).  Based on this Directive our government accepted The National Action Plan (henceforth NAP) 2010 – 2020 for Renewable Energy Sources. The accepted NAP for Renewable Energy Sources 2010 – 2020 (AN_OVE_2020, July 2010), based on EU Directive 2009/28/ES, does not define which energy sources should be used to fulfil the plan; it depend on country’s decisions and could be changed during the years to come, however, the plan provides for 106 MW of nominal power altogether by the year 2020.  The number of turbines is not specified nor are locations. But in a Government Proposal for wind farms Senozeska Brda  3 MW turbines are specified.

To sum up, the wind power of 60 MW from 2015 to 2018, adding 46 MW from 2019 to 2020 to altogether 106 MW, is planned. However, there is no information in NAP on the possible turbines locations, as already stated above.

But in July 2013 the government introduced a plan of 40 turbines with the power of 3MW, altogether with the power of 120 MW to the Municipality of Divača, in direct contravention of their own NAP. The official plan’s name is »The Park of Wind Turbines of Senozeska Brda« (Local Community Senožeče). Besides, its plan also includes the building of accessible, strong and fortified roads and connecting-20kV-wind power-cable lines of distribution transformer station, 2 x 110 kV power transmission lines and building and restoration of two 110 kV power transmission lines at the transformer station in Divača.  Location of this wind factory is on hilly terrain, not far away from the existing wind turbine (Enercon E70).The plan was open to public discussion which demonstrated that the majority of residents were against the plan.

Therefore »Civil Initiative for the Protection of Senozeska Brda« was established. It prepared many notes and complaints against this plan supported by arguments from foreign activists and experts (EPAW and other contacts).

In spite of all the protests, the Government of the Republic Slovenia adopted a Draft Act about the preparing of the State Spatial Plan for »The Park of Turbines of Senozeska Brda«. That means the green light to start the process of elaborating the environmental report, paid for by the investor. Always such a report permits the investment, irrespective of the damage to environment or people. So, the fight against wind factory will be much stronger and the international help will be needed even much more than ever before.

Soon after the Enercon E70 started people dwelling about 1 km from it became victims to it. This turbine has been here for two years, yet the four families already suffer from the Wind Turbine Syndrome and have now become the loudest voice against turbines…

So, the heaviest argument against this wind factory plan seems to be the noise problem from the existing wind turbine, which has been ignored by the investor and the government up to now.

To summarise, the government is now ignoring its own NAP of 106MW without any consultation with the public.

When NAP is mentioned as one of the basic documents for planning wind power in the Government Proposal, the number 106 MW is not used nor is any specific page mentioned; only document (NAP) as such is cited. So in the Government Policy (issued as a 2nd stage decision by government in May 2014, 1st stage was in July 2013, but both texts remained the same) the number 106 MW is ignored.

Investor VEPA LTD is talking about 30 turbines on some TV reports, but no change of Government Policy text followed. It seems this is only a smoke screen for the public. A community Divača on the other side has made plans for touristic development (accepted before any wind turbine plans emerged), using Senozeska Brda (hills) as a natural resource valuable for tourists. So, no one wind turbine will be allowed. Now, investor started to offer money to a community and to people to convince them of profit if they accept turbines.

Katarina Dea Žetko and Tomaž Ogrin