Court ruling does not affect transmission project - HidroAysén

Bnamericas Published: Monday, June 20, 2011
A local court ruling against the controversial 2.75GW HidroAysén mega-project slated for Chile's southern region XI will not affect the submission of an EIA for the scheme's US$3bn transmission line, a spokesman for the JV responsible for the project told BNamericas. "Basically it is an administrative decision and will not hold up the environmental processing of the project. We are going to continue with plans we have already established, and it will not affect our work program," the spokesman said. HidroAysén has said it plans to submit an EIA for its controversial 2,000km power line linking the project to capital Santiago by end-2011. A court in the southern city of Puerto Montt on Monday upheld an appeal lodged by several Chilean senators and environmental groups challenging the legality of the decision to approve the project. The appeal argues that at least three different environmental issues not covered in the project's latest EIA were overlooked by the regulators who approved the project. According to HidroAysén, the latest ruling does not affect the legality of the project, though a temporary suspension to the development of the scheme is in place following the court's decision. Environmental authorities in region XI approved the HidroAysén project in early May after a lengthy permitting process. The highly contentious scheme envisions the construction of five dams across the Baker and Pascua rivers. The project's approval has been met with a wave of nationwide protests. Those opposed to the project argue that the works would do irreparable harm to land in Patagonia. HidroAysén meanwhile argues the scheme is fundamental to Chile's energy security and will save millions of dollars in reduced energy imports. Chilean generators Endesa Chile and Colbún are behind the US$7bn project.

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