By GINA DIZON
SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE — Whether windmills shall displace trees, disrupt water systems, and harm biodiversity are some of the questions posed during the consultation on the proposed windfarm here, conducted by the Sagada-Besao Windmill Corporation and Phil Carbon.
A proposed 15 megawatt windfarm costing $24.8 million per megawatt is proposed to be built by Phil Carbon along the windy Pilaw Ridge found between the boundary of Sagada and Besao municipalities.
Bangaan resident and elder Angela Yocogan expressed alarm that trees will be displaced where the windmills shall be erected. Found near the proposed windfarm are springs serving as sources of water for the residents of Poblacion ,Sagada and nearby residents of Madongo and Bangaan barangays.
The windmill turbines measuring 80 feet in height and rotor blades 65 meters in diameter creates the impression that there shall be no trees to grow within the area of movement of the rotor blades. It is not determined yet how many turbines shall be constructed, President of Phil Carbon Ruth Owen said.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO)- Mountain Province Director Manuel Pogeyed who hails from Bangaan, said “local particularities” has to be taken note of by Phil Carbon in the proposed construction of the windfarm.
The environs of Pilaw ridge finds fishponds, cows and carabaos pastured to add to the diverse fauna and flora of the watershed. Whether the windmills shall harm the lives and health of the animals was forwarded by Gwen Longid of the Sagada-based Tangguyub Peoples Center.
The Pilaw-Ampakaw ridge is path of birds migrating from other countries during the rainy months of August to October. It is noted that bird paths crossing windmills are a major concern in other countries where this pose lethal effects to birds’ injury or death when crossing the windmills.
Should the Sagada-Besao windfarm be constructed, it shall be the first to be installed in a mountainous area in the Philippines. Windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte are constructed along the beach.
Sagada along with other Cordillera communities is located within pine tree-clad mountainous areas reaching as high as Mt Pulag’s 2,992 meters above sea level in Benguet. Sagada is bounded by the Pilaw-Ampakaw mountain ridge bordering Besao on the west. At the north-west borders Abra province and Besao with the mossy Sisipitan and Boasaw watersheds.
The southern side of the town is bordered by Bauko town separated by the watershed mountains of Polis. The west bordered by Sabangan municipality finds the tree-clad mountains while the northern part of the municipality is bordered by the capital town of Bontoc separated by a watershed cradling the Amlusong river.
The consultation noted requirements of an environmental impact assessment in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and related laws before a project shall ensue in any indigenous peoples community. This shall serve as one of the basis for people to decide on whether or not to give their consent in the building of a project within their community.
Owen said the environmental study shall be done by Phil Carbon before the end of the year.
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shall validate the report done by Phil Carbon,” Pogeyed said.
Patay Poblacion barangay captain Billy Baldo said a barangay resolution allowed Phil Carbon’s exploration to be done but not the actual operations of the windfarm.
Further consultations follow from here. # nordis.net