Chile’s Supreme Court halts start of 640-MW Cuervo hydropower project

COYHAIQUE, Chile 5/15/12 (PennWell) — Appeals by environmental groups have stymied construction of Chile’s 640-MW Cuervo hydroelectric plant less than a week after work on the project appeared imminent.

Just last week, reported that the Cuervo hydropower facility had been approved by Chile’s Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), but that decision was denied by the country’s Supreme Court on Friday.

The Supreme Court said SEIA acted illegally in approving the Cuervo project and ignored the Chilean National Geology and Mining Service’s recommendation that project developers conduct a new soil survey.

This survey must be completed, the Supreme Court says, before the project will be eligible for approval.

The delay is the latest in a nearly three-year string of stops. The project’s developer, Energia Austral, originally anticipated the plant to be approved some time in 2011.

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