EDF denies Mexican court ruling over indigenous land challenge will affect wind farm

EDF believes court ruling over indigenous land does not apply to its project on private land, and plans to proceed with construction

The Gunaa Sicarú wind farm is due to consist of 96 of Siemens Gamesa’s SG 2.625-126 turbines

EDF Renewables has denied that a court ruling banning wind farm construction on indigenous communities’ ancestral lands will affect development of its 252MW Gunaa Sicarú project in south-west Mexico.

“The decision does not have an impact on the development of the Gunaa Sicarú wind power plant, as it is planned exclusively on private lands,” the French energy company told Windpower Monthly.

Under the ruling earlier this month, The First Collegiate Court of Administrative and Civil Matters of the Thirteenth Circuit, based in Oaxaca, voted unanimously to grant an injunction requested by the Juchitan de Zaragoza Farming Community blocking the development of energy projects on ancestral lands.

“The responsible authorities (shall) refrain from carrying out acts that have the purpose of totally or partially depriving (indigenous communities), temporarily or permanently, of the property, possession or enjoyment of the lands of common use for the purpose of the works related to the construction of a wind farm,” the court ruled.

Welcoming the ruling, the Assembly of Indigenous People of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory criticised the Mexican government for allowing the development of wind farms on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec – a strip of land representing the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

“The Mexican State has not acted in any way in good faith, since there are already 29 wind farms in the region, none of them having respected the rights of self-determination and autonomy of indigenous peoples,” the body stated.

EDF began advancing the Gunaa Sicarú project after winning a contract to supply clean energy to the Federal Power Commission in Mexico’s second renewable tender held in late 2016.

With an estimated capital investment of €310 million, the wind farm is due to consist of 96 of Siemens Gamesa’s SG 2.625-126 turbines.

The consultation process with local indigenous communities, which is required before construction work can begin, was suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid outbreak.

EDF said the ruling would not affect the ongoing consultation processes through which it is presenting the relevant information in community assemblies in both Spanish and the indigenous Zapotec language.