by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) May 8, 2012
An environmental review commission Tuesday approved construction of another hydroelectric project in Chile's remote and pristine Patagonia region, an officials said.
The Rio Cuervo project, developed by a joint venture of Australia's Origin Energy and Xstrata Copper, is part of a larger plan to build three dams with a total capacity of 1000-MW in the area around Aysen.
The scheme has drawn protests from environmental groups, who believe it will wreak havoc in the region's unspoiled wilderness.
But Governor Pilar Cuevas said the company had come up with satisfactory responses to "all significant impacts that have been identified."
"So the Environmental Evaluation Commission unanimously approved the Rio Cuervo hydroelectric complex," she said.
Hydroaysen, which wants to build another five hydroelectric dams in the Aysen region, is already in the final stages of the approval process.
That $3.2 billion project, a joint venture of Colbun and Endesa, would generate 2,750 megawatts of electricity, but the dams would flood 14,600 acres (5,900 hectares) of pristine land.
The Chilean Supreme Court has given the green light for that project to go ahead.
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