Manitoba Cabinet to hear appeals of 200-MW Wuskwatim license

Manitoba’s Cabinet has agreed to consider appeals of the license for the 200-MW Wuskwatim hydroelectric project, already under construction at a site on the Burntwood River in northern Manitoba.

Manitoba Wildlands, an environmental group, and Trapline 18, a registered trapline for furbearing animals, filed the appeals in August, the same month construction started. (HNN 11/20/06)

The groups announced Nov. 29 that Manitoba’s Cabinet would hear the appeals under the province’s Environment Act. They said the appeals are based on issues repeatedly raised during the Environment Act review of the project, and during 2004 public hearings conducted by Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission.

�We spent time and money for four years to have the damage from existing hydro development and potential damage from the Wuskwatim project to our trapline acknowledged,� Greg McIvor of Trapline 18 said. �Our appeal submission asks for accountability of the governments for hydro development, fairness, honesty, and respect for Trapline 18.

�It also asks Cabinet to order disclosure of relevant up-to-date facts, not disclosed at the CEC hearings, which are in the possession and control of Manitoba Hydro,� he said. �Then the government must order a �public CEC hearing’ to correct the wrongs of the first process.�

Province-owned utility Manitoba Hydro is developing Wuskwatim in partnership with the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Federal, provincial, and tribal agencies granted project approvals in June. Manitoba Hydro expects construction of the C$1.2 billion (US$1.07 billion) project will take six years. The first two years of construction activity will focus on infrastructure, including building of an access road, clearing of the construction site, and development of a camp for workers.

Manitoba Hydro says work on the access road to the Wuskwatim site continues as planned. The utility had anticipated appeals; by regulation, the appeals process sends appeals to the cabinet in an �expected and prescribed process� spokesman Glenn Schneider said.

�We would have no further comment,� he added.

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