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1,281 trees to be cut for Ilocos solar project

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:10 AM | Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
LAOAG CITY—Unless stopped by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
officials in Manila, more than 1,200 trees, including 52 saplings, will be cut to give way to a solar
energy project covering about 60 hectares of forest land in Currimao town, Ilocos Norte province.
The Ilocos Norte provincial environment and natural resources office (Penro) has recommended the
cutting of 1,281 trees in Barangay (village) Bimmanga, subject to the approval of the DENR Ilocos
regional director.
Juan de los Reyes of the Ilocos Norte Penro has also asked Mirae Asia Energy Corp., the proponent
of the 20-megawatt Currimao solar project, to replace the would-be-cut trees with 128,100 seedlings
to be planted in Currimao.
Among the trees to be cut are agoho, ipil-ipil, talisay, camachile, mango, lanete, kakawate, cashew,
tamarind, duhat and siniguelas. These trees have a total volume of 1,166.3 cubic meters.
De los Reyes said Mirae Asia Energy Corp. was under the administration and control of Soleq
Philippines Inc., a firm backed by Equis Funds Group, a leading private equity group focused on
energy and infrastructure development in Asia.
Craig Marsh, Soleq director, on Wednesday sought the endorsement of the Ilocos Norte provincial
board so the solar power project could take off.
“We remain very committed to deliver the CSR (corporate social responsibility) projects aligned with
the provincial government’s programs and we look forward to a long-term partnership with you,”
Marsh told the board members.
Board Member Joel Garcia, chair of the committee on environment, said the board would endorse
the project as soon as the company submitted a detailed list of its CSR projects.
In November 2012, Mirae Asia Energy Corp., a Korean power company, expressed interest in
developing a 20-MW solar farm in Currimao. Mirae, however, sold its shares to Soleq, which is now
pushing the project.
The Penro earlier organized a team to inspect the project site, particularly the proposed locations of
the solar panels, buffer zone and transmission line right of way within the area of the forest land use
agreement.
On Aug. 27, the DENR granted the lease agreement to the Ilocos Norte government for the solar
power project development in a forest land covering BBimmanga and Paguludan-Salindeg villages in
Currimao. The agreement is for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years. It required the Ilocos
Norte government to submit within six months upon signing the agreement a comprehensive
development and management plan (CMDP) for the agreement area.
The CMDP directed the project proponent to ensure the protection of the environment and the
conservation of natural resources in the area. It also asked the proponent to ensure that the host
community would benefit from the project. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon