Friday, 30 January 2004

Chalillo Dam gets go ahead in Belize

Belize is to build a dam in the midst of its tropical forests -- and thereby tarnish its image as an international world leader in environmental conservation. It is a dam to produce hydroelectricity, and the project has been widely condemned, on economic as well as environmental grounds. But big business, in the form of the Canadian power company Fortis is behind it.

My personal view it that the dam is unnecessary, in a country that has such a tiny population, most of which are scattered. Small community based power generation makes much more sense. It is also a country where solar power is seriously under utilised. Many of the critics of the scheme have claimed that the power it produces may well end up being more expensive, that the current supply which is imported from Mexico.

But all these arguments are nothing compared to the environmental issues. The Natural History Museum in London carried out an independent study -- and its conclusions are being ignored, even by the eminent Law Lords who gave the final go ahead.

The Government of Belize should seriously consider the effect of this stain on its international image -- Ecotourism is a very significant part of the economy -- will this be the thin end of a wedge, where big business and vested interests start making the decisions? The next step will be for the government encourage more inappropriate growth to use the electricity from the Chalillo Dam.

Read more on the decision to approve the dam here

Sign a petition against the dam on

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