Chile rejects huge hydroelectric project in Patagonia

2014-06-11 12:22
Environmentalists say the hydro-electric project would have devastated the region's ecosystem. (Intendencia de Magallanas, AFP)

Environmentalists say the hydro-electric project would have devastated the region's ecosystem. (Intendencia de Magallanas, AFP) (Intendencia de Magallanas)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Santiago - President Michelle Bachelet's government rejected a huge hydroelectric project in Chile's Patagonia region on Tuesday, warning it would cause environmental harm.

The decision by the cabinet to shelve the controversial seven-year-old project was a victory for environmentalist groups that had fought the proposal to build five dams in a pristine river basin in the far south.

"The HidroAysen hydroelectric project is hereby rejected," said Environment Minister Pablo Badenier.

Hundreds of people cheered the decision in the streets of Santiago, popping champagne.

Celebrations also erupted in the region of Aysen, some 1 300km south of the capital.

"This is a success of the country's citizens who mobilised to defend a territory," Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defense Council, told AFP.

30 days to challenge

The joint Spanish-Chilean venture formed for the project now has 30 days to challenge the decision in the Environmental Court of Valdivia in southern Chile. The next step would be to appeal to the nation's Supreme Court.

Spanish power company Endesa, which is controlled by Italy's Enel, has a 51% stake in the project, and Chile's Colbun holds the remaining 49%.

The project called for dams on the Pascua and Baker rivers that would have flooded 5 900 hectares of virgin land in the Patagonia region.

The objective was to generate 2 750 megawatts of electricity, boosting Chile's installed capacity of 17 500 MW.

It also involved construction of a 2 000km long transmission line to carry power to the centre and north of the country, where Chile's major population centres and energy-hungry mining industries are located.

A net importer of energy, Chile has experienced dwindling supplies and a doubling in energy prices in recent years due to a lack of capital investment and growing competition in the sector.

But Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco said the HidroAysen project "suffers from important faults in its execution in not giving due consideration to aspects related to the people who live there".

Read more on:    chile  |  energy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.