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GREEN >Turkish court stops wind farm project, saves ‘Auntie’ Remziye’s olive grove

Turan GÜLTEKİN

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Remziye Saatli says there are 250 trees - 150 of which are olive trees - in her land.

Remziye Saatli says there are 250 trees - 150 of which are olive trees - in her land.

Turkey’s Council of State has ordered a stay of execution for the government’s decision to “urgently expropriate” an olive grove in western Turkey in order to build a wind farm power plant, marking a legal victory for the plot’s 80-year-old owner, “Auntie” Remziye Saatli.

The Cabinet had decided to use its authority to order an “urgent expropriation” of the olive grove near the touristic town of Çeşme in İzmir province on March 25, 2013. Remziye Saatli, the owner of 30-year-old grove, had sued the government over the decision, vowing “not to leave any part of my olive grove even if I’m given the whole of Turkey.”

For the 14-hectare plot of land in the Karadağ area of Çeşme, the Council of State’s Sixth Chamber recently issued the first ruling in Turkey ever to halt an urgent expropriation for a wind farm, stressing that the method could only be used for national defence and extraordinary situations such as disaster management. The court also emphasized the property rights, noting that the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) had directly applied to the Prime Ministry for urgent expropriation, bypassing the routine legal procedure.

Saatli said “every inch of the grove had her own blood and her late husband’s labor.”

“My father died when I was two months old. I withdrew credit from Ziraat Bank to add the money I inherited from my father and bought this land plot. There were six olive trees remaining from the former, Greek owners, when I bought it. Now it has 250 trees, 150 of which are olive trees,” she added.

Saatli stressed that she was initially offered just 38,000 Turkish Liras by the state, but would keep refusing it even “if they give her Çeşme and the whole of Turkey.”

The verdict is significant for all those who own property in areas where wind farms are planned, with Saatli’s attorney Hande Atay saying “the public interest aspect of these projects was in question.”
Atay added that 41 percent of all current wind farm projects are in Turkey’s Aegean region.

July/22/2014

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