Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec has rebutted claims made last week by an expanded collection of green pressure groups that the Rupert river diversion project will cause environmental problems and community impacts.

Hydro-Quebec claimed the greens were circulating ‘falsehoods’ about Rupert river being destroyed as the project was approved by the independent environmental review bodies – Canada’s Federal Review Panel and the Quebec Review Committee. Construction of the project started in January.

In particular, the Federal body said no alternative project, or combination, could give the same benefits as the diversion scheme. Hydro-Quebec added that while the river would be partially diverted for hydro power purposes there would be hydraulic structures built that would assist the life cycle of fisheries and diversity.

In terms of community, the utility added that 70% of Crees of James Bay participating in the referendum on the project voted for the Paix des Braves agreement before it was signed in 2002. The agreement provided for the diversion project, which will convey additional water for generation at Eastmain-1 and a new plant, Sarcelle.

Last week, a battery of US environmental groups lent the voices to those of Canadian greens and native communities, claiming the scheme was being developed in opposition to local community wishes.

The Rupert river diversion scheme is to generate an extra 8.5TWh annually after it is commissioned over 2010-11. Hearings and consultations for the scheme started in 2003, after the agreement was signed.

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