Mass arrests as protesters blockade wind farm build

Mass arrests as protesters blockade wind farm build

Police have arrested more than 100 protesters blockading wind turbine shipments to a controversial project in Hawaii.

Deliveries to the Nā Pua Makani project in Kahuku, O’ahu, have been the subject of sit-down protests by residents opposing the development by US energy group AES.

The protest has topped news bulletins in Hawaii, with some protestors alleging harsh treatment by officers including punching and tasering – in turn denied by police chiefs.

The wind farm plans to have eight Vestas V136 3.45MW turbines with 105-metre hub heights up and running in 2020. The project met with stiff opposition in its planning phase, with objections ranging from proximity to homes and a school, noise impacts, and harm to bat populations.

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“The giant turbines are too close and the low frequency waves they create affect the health and well-being of the most vulnerable – the young, the old, and the infirm,” one protester said in a Facebook post.

AES said in a statement sent to Recharge it remains “deeply committed to being good neighbours to the residents of the area”.

AES US Generation chief operating officer Mark Miller said: “Our focus remains on executing the transport safely with as minimal disruption as possible for all O‘ahu residents. Progressively, each night the transport of equipment to the project site is becoming more efficient and expeditious.

“Nā Pua Makani is important for Hawaii’s renewable energy future. When operational in 2020, our wind farm will produce enough renewable energy to power 16,000 homes throughout O‘ahu – an important step toward achieving Hawaii’s commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.”

A communications specialist in a recent article for Recharge claimed US developers are coming under increasing pressure from ‘Nimby’ groups that are using social media to run effective campaigns against wind farms.

Earlier in October Norway stepped back from elements of a proposed national wind power plan, citing the level of protests encountered.