Golan Heights: Energix wind farm allegedly fast-tracked during COVID-19 despite threat to local Syrian population; incl. company response

Energix Renewable Energies is developing a 32-turbine wind farm project in the Golan Heights. According to a group of civil society organisations, this project is being fast-tracked during the COVID-19 lockdown without consideration of complaints from local communities, and has threatened the livelihoods of local indigenous Syrian communities. Opponents to the project are allegedly facing harassment for voicing their complaints.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Energix to respond to these allegations. The company denies allegations of environmental harm and states that the local community - the Druze community and landowners - are an integral part of the project. The company also responded that the project will benefit local communities through increased investment in local infrastructure and jobs.

A statement signed by 17 civil society organisations, as well as an article by MENAFN and Energix' full response are featured below.

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Company response
13 May 2020

Response from Energix

Author: Energix

[Full response attached]

...Energix wishes to clarify that the allegations made and data provided throughout the two articles are incorrect, have no grounds and are misleading for the reading audience...The Aran Project plays a crucial role...to meet the Ministry of Energy's objectives for the production of electricity from renewable energy, with the emphasis being that the immense contribution of windfarms, when weighed against the potential harm they pose, is considered low compared to other facilities for electricity production...

The Aran Project...is expected to occupy less than 2% of the margins of the agricultural lands of the Druze community in the Golan Heights...Around the turbine and the remaining area of the Project, can continue full use for agriculture without any ill effect...It should be emphasized that in addition to the ARAN project, there are at least two more nearby windfarms with similar attributes that are being built on areas of kibbutzim and Israeli Jewish residents...the project will lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life of the residents in the project's area – the Druze community. The Project is expected to upgrade the local infrastructures; upgrade the local roads; support the Druze community in the project's area; develop the region and create new jobs for hundreds of residents; development and encouragement of tourism around the Druze settlements by establishing a visitors' center; and of course the sphere of the Druze landowners, for which Energix has regulated their ownership rights over their lands and who are expected to receive a steady long-term income for the use of the lands...

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Article
25 April 2020

Energix Exploiting COVID-19 Lockdown in Occupied Golan

Author: MENAFN - Palestine News Network

"Palestine- Energix Exploiting COVID-19 Lockdown in Occupied Golan", 25 April 2020.

Israeli energy company, Energix Ltd...is taking advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown in the occupied Syrian Golan...to develop sites for its harmful wind farm project. Accompanied by Israeli police, Energix representatives are visiting project sites to demarcate plots and erect signs...due to COVID-19 movement restrictions, Golani Syrians are grounded in their homes, unable to monitor or peacefully protest Energix's activities. Those that have risked their health to venture out and film Energix and Israeli police visits to project sites have subsequently been harassed and questioned by the police...Energix's wind energy project has been marked by a strategy to manipulate and intimidate the Syrian population. This culminated in Energix suing Al-Marsad and members of the Syrian population under Israel's controversial 'Anti-Boycott Act' last year in an attempt to silence the organisation and others who expressed concerns about the project's legality and impact on the Syrian population. Energix has subsequently withdrawn five lawsuits against Golani Syrians and...was ordered by an Israeli court to pay up to $5,000 USD per person for legal expenses.

...UN Special Rapporteurs...have written to the Israeli government and Energix...As Energix manipulates a global health crisis, under the direct protection of Israeli security forces, lawful and legitimate protest has been extinguished from the Golan...the Syrian population is seeking to pursue new avenues for justice as more than 20 Syrians are now attempting to nullify land contracts with Energix, and Al-Marsad, with partners, is contemplating a new petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to halt Energix's work...

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Article
16 April 2020

Occupied Syrian Golan Wind Turbine Project Poses Existential Threat to Indigenous Syrian Population

Author: Al-Haq, SN4HR, FIDH and others

On 9 September 2019, Israel’s National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) approved a wind energy project on agricultural lands, largely apple and cherry orchards, owned by the Syrian residents of the remaining villages in the occupied Golan. The project, which is slated to be built by Israeli company ’Energix Renewable Energies’ (Energix), is expected to occupy about 4,300 dunams (about 1,100 acres), nearly a quarter of the agricultural land that Syrians still control...The Israeli state...approved this project ignoring hundreds of objections submitted by Syrian agriculture cooperatives and individuals...The objections were filed on behalf of 11 Syrian agricultural cooperatives and civil society groups, which represent thousands of native Syrians...

Energix’s project...would have serious consequences for the health and safety of Syrian communities as a result of dangerous exposure to infrasound and flickering...According to experts on the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, environment and physics, the project will also lead to irreparable destruction of their traditional agriculture economy of apples and cherries...the project would heavily restrict the expansion of three of the five remaining Syrian villages in the Golan after 1967 (Majdal Shams, Buq’ata and Masada). This will exacerbate the suffocating housing crisis in the Syrian villages, distort the natural landscape, and threaten wildlife in the region...

We, the undersigned organisations, condemn Energix’s project because of its serious repercussions on all aspects of Syrians’ lives in the Golan, and its aims to cement the economic occupation of the Golan..

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