Back Society » Environment » 5ha of Coastal Protection Forest Destroyed by Solar Power Project: 'It Was an Accident'

While carrying out site clearance for a solar power project in Binh Dinh Province, workers unlawfully destroyed a large swath of local coastal protection forest.

As Thanh Nien reports, the Binh Dinh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and district officials held a meeting to discuss how to handle the deforestation case. According to inspectors, around 5.26 hectares of coastal protection forest in Phu My District, Binh Dinh were cut down due to site clearance. Trees were axed and uprooted, so officials could not determine the exact number of trees affected and the extent of the damage.

The crew was working on phase two of the Phu My Solar Power Project, spanning 380 hectares in My Thang and My An communes of the district. With plans to include three solar power plants, the project costs VND6.2 trillion (US$271.4 million) and is managed by a company called CP Clean Energy Vision Development. The patch of destroyed protection forest did not belong to the 380 hectares CP was assigned. 

A company spokesperson said at the meeting that the deforestation was “an accident,” explaining that, due to pandemic movement restrictions, the company fully entrusted contractors with carrying out construction without overseeing the work. One contractor “mistakenly” cleared trees outside of the project site, the company said. It added that the contractor in question was terminated.

Binh Dinh authorities have not meted out a punishment for the offense, though CP has offered to exchange 11.2 hectares of their allotted land that’s still untouched for the 5.26 hectares that was damaged.

The incident was first uncovered by residents of My An Commune, who spotted suspicious activities in the forest in their hometown and alerted local authorities. A local man only known as C. told Thuong Truong that this stretch of protection forest is closely guarded as it helps to prevent sand from blowing away in the summer and protect villages from storms during winter.

However, for the past month, at night local inhabitants noticed the sound of machinery and workers chopping down trees. They first reported the incident to commune officials, who went down to check, but the felling continued and didn’t stop until district investigators became involved.

[Photo via Thuong Truong]

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