Friday, October 7, 2011

Chilean court overturns ban on giant Patagonia dam

Terra Daily via AFP: A Chilean court on Thursday overturned a three-month suspension of a project to build a giant hydroelectric dam complex in the Patagonian wilderness, which environmentalists say will destroy a unique habitat. Green campaigners plan to challenge an appeals court decision made in the southern port city of Puerto Montt in favor of the project, which aims to generate 2,750 megawatts of power.

The 2.9 billion dollar HidroAysen project, which belongs to Spanish-Chilean consortium Endesa-Colburn, has sparked huge and sometimes violent protests since a government commission approved it in May. It involves building five dams in two river valleys in Patagonia, and the flooding of 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of pristine, largely uninhabited land in a quest to generate more electric power for Chile's booming economy.

Thursday's decision overturned a ruling in June to halt the project for three months to consider objections from opponents. The government of President Sebastian Pinera argues the country needs the project -- which will increase Chile's power capacity by 20 percent -- to keep pace with energy demands and to head off looming shortages...

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