SANTIAGO, April 5 A Chilean appeals court has
given the green light to a $733 million hydroelectric dam
planned in Patagonia, drawing a vow from environmental
campaigners to further appeal against the decision.
Lawyers from the environmental prosecutor's office had
lodged the appeal, saying the plant's environmental permit was
not legal. But the court ruled the permit "had not violated any
constitutional guarantees to the plaintiffs' right to life and
physical integrity ... or the right to live in an environment
free of pollution," according to local media.
The Coyhaique Court of Appeals had previously blocked on a
preliminary basis the 640-megawatt Rio Cuervo project, planned
by Origin Energy Ltd and Glencore Xstrata Plc
in the remote southern Aysen region, to weigh
Opponents say the complex would harm the environment and
would be built above a geological fault line in the quake-prone
country. But power-hungry miners and businesses say Chile, which
doesn't have significant hydrocarbons of its own, desperately
needs fresh energy sources.
The Energia Austral joint venture between Origin Energy and
Glencore Xstrata also has plans to build two other generating
units, Condor and Blanco.
Such ambitions may meet increasing opposition from
Having helped stall around $30 billion in mining and energy
projects, some Chilean environmental lawyers say their battle is
only beginning. "Projects are increasingly being set up in
fragile places. People's opposition is completely rational,"
Alvaro Toro, a lawyer with environmental NGO OLCA, told Reuters
in an interview earlier this year.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer;
Editing by David Holmes)