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December 1, 2020

Wind farm project prompts row between investor CEZ, local authorities

The row turned into a full-blown conflict on Monday, first when five locals were shot with rubber bullets by Fantanele-Cogealac wind farm security guards and continuing with Czech investor CEZ representatives and the local mayor trading barbs. The situation grew tense when Mayor of Cogealac, Constanta County, Cati Hristu, together with a group of 80-100 locals, asked workers on the wind farm construction site to leave the area, charging that the site was illegal and unauthorised. Representatives of CEZ subsidiary Continental Wind Partners (CWP), which are handling the wind farm, said they were attacked by the locals and thrown stones at. They said, quoted by daily ‘Adevarul,’ that security guards first fired warning shots and when they couldn’t face the crowd anymore, they fired rubber bullets at the aggressors, injuring five people. Two were still in hospital yesterday morning, according to Mediafax.

CWP officials said dissensions over the wind turbines’ construction date a while back and have continued, even if the constructors have all the necessary authorisations. A CEZ spokesperson, Cosmina Marin, told Mediafax that this was not the first time Mayor Hristu and his supporters tried to prevent the project by acts of violence. She said that a year ago, several employees of the company were beaten up by Hristu and other locals.

In a memo sent to PM Emil Boc last month, obtained by ‘Adevarul,’ the wind farm constructor insists that Hristu is in conflict of interests, since both he and a firm owned by his wife signed contracts granting plots of land in the area to another wind farm developer – Eolica Dobrogea, and the mayor has a personal interest in blocking CEZ’s investment. Eolica Dobrogea’s project was recently purchased by Spanish firm Iberdola, the newspaper added.

The mayor however says that CEZ and CWP don’t have any right to build the wind farm, since the town’s local council in 2007 granted all the available land to Eolica Dobrogea for its own wind farm project. He said CEZ signed the deal illegally, without consulting the local council. But the Constanta County Council and the prefect insisted that it was entirely the mayor’s fault. In a press release signed by Constanta County Council president Nicusor Constantinescu charged that Hristu uses all means, “many of them illegal and abusive,” to prevent the CEZ wind park from happening.

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