IN SPITE OF OPPOSITION BY environmentalists and high profile activists, Belize government has decided to proceed with the construction of the Chalillo dam.

Environmentalists have claimed the reservoir created by the dam would submerge about 1100ha of some of the richest rainforest habitat in the country in the Upper Macal and Raspaculo river valleys.

After reviewing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, Belize National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) has granted environmental clearance for the US$30M project, which has been proposed by Canada-based Fortis.

In a recent statement, NEAC claimed it was satisfied that the benefits of the project outweigh the environmental costs, and that most of the adverse effects can be mitigated and managed through the implementation of a sound environmental compliance plan.

The government clearance is conditional upon the development of an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP), which will incorporate the mitigation measures identified in the environmental impact assessment, along with others recommended during the evaluation process.

The development of the ECP has already begun, the committee said, and will specify the detailed mitigation measures, time frame and budget associated with their implementation.