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Local community raises concerns around wind energy project in Turkey; incl. company responses

The Goldstandard registered Çeşme Wind Power Project, located on a peninsular close to Izmir in Turkey, was initiated by the Turkish energy company Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation Inc. (formerly ABK Energy) and supplied with wind turbines by German company Nordex SE. The Turkish company Life Climate and Energy Limited (Life Enerji) provides consultancy services.

According to the local community the project was implemented without adequately consultation of local stakeholders and landowners, and those opposing the project have allegedly faced harassment via local/regional media and courts. The community has filed several (ongoing) complaints against the project including at local and administrative courts as well as the Supreme Court of Turkey, however construction continued. In 2015, the German National Contact Point accepted partial responsibility for an OECD complaint filed against Nordex, following which the company agreed to improve its due diligence process (the case was also covered in this 2017 Germanwatch report). In April 2019, the community also submitted a letter to Goldstandard alleging non-compliance. Goldstandard has openend a formal investigation.

In August 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation Inc., Life Enerji and Nordex SE asking them to respond to a summary of the project published on Banktrack's website (also included below), outlining the concerns. Wind Energy Electricity Generation Inc. in its response maintains that all its activities are conducted in compliance with the law and meet human rights and environmental requirements. Their full response, as well as responses from Life Enerji and Nordex SE, are available below.

In November 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to banks and project financiers that allededly provided financial support to the project, namely DZ Bank, KfW and the credit export agency Euler Hermes. DZ Bank declined to comment, citing client confidentiality, KfW said they were unaware of any project financing. Euler Hermes' response is available below.

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Company response
26 November 2019

Response by Euler Hermes

Author: Euler Hermes

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Euler Hermes to respond to the concerns raised. Euler Hermes sent the following response:

Please note that export credit guarantees do not cover foreign projects or companies, but rather German goods or services that are being exported abroad. In the case in question, a guarantee was provided to the financing bank to offer protection against a payment default. 

In general, environmental, social and human right aspects play a critical role in our due diligence process. The ABK Cesme Wind Park was screened, classified, reviewed and evaluated according to the OECD Council’s Recommendation on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence (the “Common Approaches”), which serves as a framework for the environmental and social due diligence process followed by export credit agencies around the world.

Based on the information available to us at the time, the project was assigned a category of B. The complaints that have been made against the project are being taken very seriously and are being reviewed and considered internally. We are in frequent communication with the bank and project company in this regard.

Company response
26 November 2019

Response by KfW

Author: KfW

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited KfW to respond to the concerns raised. KfW sent the following response:

Thank you for sharing the below link referring to the ABK Cesme Wind energy project, and for your invitation to respond.

I have consulted the relevant departments and subsidiaries at KfW regarding any possible direct or indirect involvement of KfW in the aforementioned project. 

We are not aware of any project finance by KfW involving (a) the above-mentioned wind energy project or (b) Nordex SE in Turkey.

Company non-response
25 November 2019

DZ Bank declined to respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited DZ Bank to respond to the concerns raised. DZ Bank declined to comment:

Thank you very much for your request. However, we do not comment on any of our client relationships.

Item
12 November 2019

Response to Nordex SE letter dated 2nd of September, 2019

Author: Madeleine Staaf Kura, Esen Fatma Kabadayi Whiting

Note: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre sent Nordex a copy of the letter in October. We will publish their response here once/if we receive it.

...[T]he results of both the expropriation of private property decision and the planning of the ABK RES/Vega Energy/NORDEX SE project (since 2014 in progress) are no longer in court proceedings. They have been concluded since February and April 2018, with court ruling against the project...

[W]e would like to stress that none of the court verdicts, taken in the favors of the local victims, have been implemented to date. This is to say that, despite the court ruling, the wrongdoers and their associates of wind turbine business in Cesme are continuing to construct/maintenance, operate and cash in...

Therefore [...] we cordially invite this multi billion Euro corporate, also being the market share leader in Turkey, to act responsibly while doing business in Turkey and immediately remove the NORDEX SE engineers who are still working & operating on the site...

Cesme, Turkey 10th of October 2019

Read the full post here

Item
27 October 2019

Our response to Vega Energy letter

Author: Cesme Platform for Sustainability

...an EIA report for this project [has never] been conducted. Instead together with the license issued in 2008, it was given an "EIA not required" document... The lawsuit that the locals and landowners who cultivate and have lived in the valley for generations had to file was against the "EIA not required" decision...

This case has been exhausted and prolonged in court since 2014, where the supreme court of The Turkish Republic ruled in the favor of the locals twice. The company is continually ignoring the concerns of the locals as well as court verdicts and meanwhile they proceeded with their construction...

[T]he case has been accepted and is pending before the Constitutional Court of the Turkish Republic...

Read the full post here

Item
8 October 2019

Reply by Vega Energy to the community's rejoinder

Author: Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation

To whom it may concern,

"As we have said in our previous statement, the Wind Power Plant as owned by our company is one which is entirely legal and for which all permissions have been obtained under the laws of the Republic of Turkey. The lawsuit filed against the environmental impact report by the relevant people has been concluded in our favour by the local administrative courts and the Council of State of the Republic of Turkey. Efforts made by these locals who want to zone this area for construction, thus tuning the area into a heap of concrete have ended up in disappointment once again. This is our last reply on the matter.

Best regards."  

Vega Rüzgar Enerjisi Elektrik Üretim A.Ş.

NGO rejoinder
7 October 2019

Community responds to Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation's answer

Author: Cesme Platform for Sustainability

ABK RES/Vega Wind Energy project has since the first day it became known to the local community/stakeholders been exhausted in court. Jan. 2014, the large scale industrial wind turbine construction started on 1st and 2nd degree natural protected private property and state owned land. This without even having the project area in its legal possession. No real stakeholder meetings have ever been held and an EIA report has never been conducted. The court verdicts against the project regarding the expropriation of private property and the planning have never been implemented. The project not being in the “Public of Interest” has also been ruled. (Final verdicts ruled against the project in 2018.) ...

[T]he ones whom opposed the illegal project have been harassed, threatened and even brought to court with several irrelevant Slapp-suits...

In 2014 the first complaints to OECD was filed, where the insufficient outcome led to German watch including the project in the Miseror, Global Energy and Human Rights report 2017. Since April, 2019, a profound investigation by Goldstandard UN CDM is on-going. Due to all these documented facts, the project has also been classified and launched as a "Dodgy deal" by Banktrack...

[The full response is attached]

Read the full post here

Company response
9 September 2019

Response by Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation Inc (formerly ABK Energy)

...As Vega Wind Energy Electricity Generation Inc., our company continues electricity generation activities from wind energy plant in Turkey, Izmir province, Cesme township for about 5 years since May 2015 with production license received in accordance with the law.

THE WIND FARM PROJECT AREA IS A ZONE WITHOUT CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR ANY HOUSES OR HOTELS. AREA IS A NON RESIDANTIAL ZONE.

Closest house which is constructed with a construction permit is 703 meter far away.  All activities of our company are carried out in accordance with human rights and in this context, in order to create a cleaner, healthier and “sustainable” life, in particular in the protection of the environment. Therefore we can not accept any breach of our wind power plant activities by not being consulted with the society, violating land rights, harassment and allegations that the construction continues despite the court's decision to stop the project.

As a matter of fact, the Environmental Impact Assessment Report required for our company to continue its activities is in compliance with the law and the lawsuit filed against this report has been concluded in favor of our company. On the other hand, the zoning plans for the areas in which we conduct our activities are in accordance with the law. All these issues show that our company's activities meet humanistic and environmental requirements to the finest detail and generate electricity from wind energy in accordance with the public interest. In addition, we report that “electromagnetic resonance” and “noise measurements” that we believe your center will not normally find in any wind power plant, are meticulously reported by our company for human health at all times. If you wish, we can share the reports including the results that are completely suitable for human health...

[The full response is attached]

Read the full post here

Company response
6 September 2019

Response by Life Enerji

Author: Life Enerji

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Life Enerji to respond to the concerns raised. Life Enerji sent the following response:

We don’t have any influence over the process and decision of the company.

Company response
2 September 2019

Response by Nordex SE

Author: Nordex SE

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Nordex SE to respond to the concerns raised. Nordex SE sent the following response:

The Nordex Group in general doesn’t comment on ongoing court proceedings until the results are known. Furthermore, we would like to stress that we are not part to the ongoing court proceedings related to the ABK Cesme project. However, we will monitor the further development of the court proceedings, in order to establish to what extent their outcome may affect our business activities.