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  • 28.02.02: NGOs Welcome European Parliament's Clear "No" To Water Transfers
  • 19.02.02: Nepal's New National Park Protects Kathmandu Water Supply
  • 19.02.02: Belize dam approval challenged in court
  • 18.02.02: New demonstrations against the NHP.
  • 18.02.02: Colloque international sur le Saumon.
  • 08.02.02: Portugal: Outcry as largest Europe dam opens
  • 06.02.02: New Report Examines Privatization's Dangers, Calls For Stricter Standards
  • 05.02.02: Cree Approve New Agreement with Quebec
  • 31.01.02: New Danube Shipping Routes Ecologically and Economically Dangerous says WWF in its new report
  • 31.01.02: World Wetlands Day 2002 (2 February): "Wetlands: Water, Life, and Culture"
  • 31.01.02: Conference announcement: UK : Public Participation under the EC Water Framework Directive
  • 30.01.02: Impact of Belize dam in dispute
  • 30.01.02: March 10 : Important demonstration for a new water culture and against the Spanish National Hydrological Plan in Barcelona
  • 24.01.02: Spanish Presidency's contradictory environmental plans !
  • 24.01.02: Spain's environment ministry published an environmental assessment of the country's controversial national hydrological plan
  • 24.01.02: Spain notifies EU of controversial water plan

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28.02.02: NGOs Welcome European Parliament's Clear "No" To Water Transfers

Environmental NGOs WWF, BirdLife International and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcome the clear position taken by the European Parliament against unsustainable water management schemes across Europe. European Parliamentarians meeting in Brussels today adopted a tough Resolution on the "European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy", which will be sent to Heads of State and Government at the Barcelona Summit (15-16 March). The Resolution contains a clear expression of concern about "the precedent set by proposals for the development of unsustainable water management schemes across Europe" such as water transfers, and calls on the Commission to "not provide any EU funding for such water transfer projects." MEPs stopped short of issuing an outright condemnation of the Spanish Hydrological Plan law of 20 June 2001 by removing a specific reference to it that had been voted at last weeks' Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, despite its clear EU dimension and NGOs concerns over it. Nonetheless, NGOs hope that the Parliament's Resolution will send a clear signal to decision-makers in Madrid and in the rest of the EU that this type of water management scheme is viewed as unsustainable by many across Europe.
The Spanish Hydrological Plan is a "water transfer" law, including as many as 863 water infrastructure works and other developments including dams and reservoirs - on top of the piping for the transfers. NGOs believe that the plan could lead to the destruction of many areas requiring protection under EU nature conservation, such as the Ebro Delta. They estimate that as many as 86 Special Protection Areas and 82 Sites of Community Interest, as designated under the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives are under threat from the infrastructure development required by the plan. Moreover, they state that the plan will contravene the principles of sustainable water management by substantially increasing water demand in Spain and clearly violating the legal provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive. Worse still, say NGOs, the plans are likely to be part-financed by the European taxpayer. It is understood that the Spanish authorities are looking for a seven billion Euro cash injection for the scheme from the EU's cohesion and structural funds.
Eva Royo Gelabert from WWF commented: "Although the European Parliament's Resolution does not make a specific reference to the Spanish Hydrological Plan, MEPs have today taken a very clear and responsible stance against unsustainable water management schemes in Europe. We hope that other EU Institutions will now follow suit. The services of the European Commission, by comparison, have had several multi-stakeholder complaints against the Spanish Hydrological Plan for months on their table, but we still don't know what is the European Commission official reaction to it". Miguel Naveso, BirdLife International, said: "MEPs have recognised the contradictory nature of the current situation in Spain: the EU is seeking to protect precious natural heritage on one hand, yet plans are being made to use EU funds to finance environmentally-damaging infrastructure on the other. The Commission should respond to the European Parliament's demand and refuse to fund unsustainable water projects with European Union taxpayers' money".
"After this clear statement from the European Parliament against EU support for unsustainable water transfer projects, like the Spanish Hydrological Plan, it is now up to the Commission to take a position on this issue before the Johannesburg Summit.", says Stefan Scheuer of the EEB. "The EU's credibility on sustainable development must not be jeopardised and environmental protection laws must not be undermined by financing the wrong projects".
Further information from:
· · Eva Royo Gelabert, WWF, +32 2 743 8814 · Victoria Phillips, BirdLife Internat. +44 1767 680551 · · Stefan Scheuer, EEB, +32 2 289 1304

Editor's notes:
1. The final text of the amendment adopted by the European Parliament on 28.02.02 in the context of the Resolution on the "European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy for Barcelona": "The European Parliament is deeply worried about the precedent set by proposals for development of unsustainable water management schemes across Europe and calls on the Commission not to provide any EU funding for these water transfer projects." This was adopted by 493 votes to 24 with 5 abstentions. 2. The SNHP law entered into force last August, with the aim of regulating water resources in the Spanish territory by transfers from river basins that have (so-called) water "in excess" to river basins with a (so-called) "water deficit", mostly in order to increase water-intensive agriculture and tourism. The implementation of this law will require the development of 863 new water infrastructure and other works (e.g. dams, reservoirs) for the whole of the Spanish territory, which are already listed in Annex II (the "investment plan").
2. The main bulk of the SNHP entails the development of a new water transfer of 1,050 cubic hectometres per year from the Ebro river to another four basins in the east of the country. This is the part of the SNHP for "immediate execution" requiring, on top of the piping, approximately 381 new water infrastructure and other works affecting all five river basins. The most negative of these are several new dams in the Pyrenees mountains. Negative impacts on the Ebro river basin include the disappearance of the Ebro Delta (area for Natura 2000 designation, already a Ramsar site, the 2nd most important wetland in Spain, and of high European significance), as show by a recent report by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (full report - summary).
3. 3. NGO concerns about the SNHP, shared by many Spanish academics and scientists, are summarised as follows:
4. · The SNHP has been analysed as being unsustainable from an economic, social and environmental point of view, and thus it goes against the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy and the Treaty itself. · Spanish government is anticipating the EU will fund at least 30% (?7,683 million) of the investments required. Structural and Cohesion funds have already been given for building dams and reservoirs that could now be used to make the overall implementation of the SNHP possible. · The development of the infrastructures listed in the SNHP's "investment plan" will have significant impacts on EU protected or proposed protected areas forming the Natura 2000 Network, leading to infringements of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The recent complaint submitted to the Commission by SEO/BirdLife shows at least 126 IBAs and 86 SPAs being affected along with at least 14 habitat types, 18 species and 82 proposed Sites of Community Interest. We believe the plan will also contravene other parts of existing EU environmental legislation, various Articles of the EU Treaty, and overall EC/EU commitments under International Conventions. · Of prime consideration is the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the new EU water law since 22 December 2000, which offers an immediate opportunity for the European Commission to respond to such an unsustainable water development scheme.

19.02.02: Nepal's New National Park Protects Kathmandu Water Supply

By Deepak Gajurel
KATHMANDU, Nepal, February 19, 2002 (ENS) - The drinking water supply for Kathmandu Valley's one million inhabitants has been secured by the designation of a new national park near Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu. The Shivapuri National Park, 13 kilometers (eight miles) north of Kathmandu, protects the Shivapuri watershed from which more than a quarter of the valley's water demand is supplied.
For full text and graphics visit:

19.02.02: Belize dam approval challenged in court

BELIZE CITY, Belize, February 19, 2002 (ENS) - Belizean environmental and business groups have filed a lawsuit to block the controversial, Canadian backed Chalillo Dam project. The suit challenges the Belizean government's conditional approval for the Canadian backed hydroelectric dam, charging that the government failed to hold public hearings or consider comments from scientists, as required by Belizean law.
For full text and graphics visit:

18.02.02: New demonstrations against the NHP.

AMDPress 18/02/02. -
Between 20,000 and 35,000 people (respectively according to the Local Police and the organizers) demonstrated yesterday in the streets of Deltebre to protest against the National Hydrological Plan (NHP).
Actions took place not only in the streets but also in the offices. (Thousands of companies have started an initiative against the controversial Plan. )
Representatives of Ecologist in Action met today with the Commissioner of Environment, Margot Wallström, to ask the European Commission not to finance the NHP.
Called by the Platform For The Defense Of The River Ebro, the thousand persons gathered yesterday in Deltebre showed their opposition to the water transfer from the Ebro.
Placards reads "dead River, lost Delta …" and the demonstrators centered their critics against the PP and CiU, political forces that supported the approval of the PHN in Cortes.
Many groups were present: political parties ICV, PSC and ERC; unions UGT, CCOO, Unió of Pagesos and USOC; and the "anti-transfert" platforms of the Ebro, Manlleu, Vic, Girona, Barcelona and Aragón areas.
Another demonstration will take place in Barcelona on March 10th to try and turn the NHP into one of the central subjects of the political debate before the European summit that will take place in the Condal City 15 and 16 of the next month.

18.02.02: Colloque international sur le Saumon.

Un colloque regroupant les différentes organisations internationales du saumon, de l'Atlantique nord, du Pacifique nord et de la Mer Baltique se tiendra à Vancouver les 14 et 15 mars prochains. Les thèmes sont les mortalités en mer et la recherche d'une collaboration entre les chercheurs, les organisations, les états.

Source: SeaRiver 43

08.02.02: Outcry as largest Europe dam opens

February 8, 2002 Posted: 1339 GMT
LISBON, Portugal (CNN) -- Environmental activists have been protesting at the opening of a giant dam project in Portugal that will create Europe's largest artificial lake.
The ceremony on Friday marking the closing of the 96-metre-high floodgates to the hyrdoelectric dam was presided over by Portugal's outgoing Prime Minister Antonio Guterres near the town of Alqueva, 150 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of Lisbon. The ?1.96 billion project will provide enough electricity for 180,000 people.
Over the next four years, the 250 square-kilometre lake will submerge 160 rocks covered with Stone Age drawings and the village of Luz, whose 400 inhabitants are being relocated to a new village nearby. Cemeteries are also being moved.
Portuguese journalist Joana Latino told CNN that there was much opposition from archaeologists and environmentalists, who she said planned to follow the prime minister around at the opening ceremony and throw wreaths into the Guadiana river.
More than one million trees were chopped down because decaying underwater flora could pollute the reservoir, and the ruins of a Roman fortress from the first century BC will be lost under the water along with other sites from the Neolithic period.
The environmentalists say the lake, which will be about 80 kilometres long at its furthest points, will destroy the habitats of floral species and animals including eagles, kites some of the few remaining Iberian lynxes. They also say it is a waste of money.
Many residents of Luz are also unhappy about their new homes in a replica village on the banks of the new lake, Latino said. Francina Goudino, 69, told London-based Guardian newspaper: "I will cry when I have to leave. I love this place. My husband, my parents and my grandparents all lived and died here. Why should I want to go?
"The new house is okay inside. It is the same size as this one but the yard is only three square metres. What can I do with that? They started talking about this dam when I was a girl. I never took them seriously until now."

06.02.02: New Report Examines Privatization's Dangers, Calls For Stricter Standards

The Pacific Institute released a new report on water privatization today that aims to ensure water privatization deals are fair, protect the public health, and don't harm the environment. "The New Economy of Water: The Risks and Benefits of Globalization and Privatization of Fresh Water" is the most comprehensive examination of the issue of water privatization to date. The report looks at the dangers and benefits of water privatization, offers case
studies from around the world, and sets forth principles designed to help guide privatization deals.

The report is available on our Website at:
Print copies are available for $20 from the Pacific Institute. To order, please send check or money order to:

Pacific Institute -- New Economy, 654 13th Street, Preservation Park, Oakland, CA 94612, USA.

05.02.02: Cree Approve New Agreement with Quebec

NEMASKA, Quebec, Canada, February 5, 2002 (ENS) - In secret ballot referendums held among the Cree which ended Sunday, close to 70 percent voted to approve an Agreement in Principle establishing a new relationship between the government of Québec and the James Bay Crees.
The Agreement in Principle, reached last October 23, will allow hydropower and forestry development that has been blocked by disputes between the indigenous people and the provincial government.
"This is an historic moment for the Crees," said Grand Chief Ted Moses. "We will build our communities, find and create employment opportunities for the Crees in the development of the territory and we will build our Nation."
"This is an agreement to implement Québec's obligations under section 28 of the [1975] James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement while at the same time it preserves and increases the Cree rights in the agreement. It is an agreement that vindicates the long Cree campaign since 1975 to have our rights respected," Chief Moses said.
The agreement includes cash payments to the Cree of C$24 million in 2002, C$46 million the following year, then C$70 million a year for 48 years. The Cree also get more control over their community and economy, more power over logging and more Hydro-Quebec jobs.
"We will receive from Quebec payments in order for us to properly carry out these responsibilities in accordance with priorities and means which we, the Cree, deem appropriate for our own development." said Chief Moses when the Agreement in Principle was signed last October. In return, the Cree have promised to drop C$3.6 billion in environmental lawsuits against the government.
The Cree also agreed to accept hydropower installations along the Eastman River and Rupert River, subject to environmental approval.
The agreement will allow Hydro-Québec to build its planned C$3.8-billion Eastmain and Rupert hydroelectric projects, part of the controversial James Bay power development plan. The projects will generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity when they are completed in 10 years.
The Cree position concerning hydropower has changed since the 1990s when a Cree campaign managed to keep the province of Quebec from building the Great Whale River hydro-electric project as the second phase of its plan, first announced in 1971, to dam and divert almost every major river running into James and Hudson Bays.
That effort by the Cree included an eight million dollar lawsuit and an information campaign aimed at power customers in the New England.
The traditional terrority of the James Bay Cree Nation is in boreal, subarctic Canada. It has been adversely affected by hydroelectric mega-projects involving river diversions and river basin re-engineering since the 1970s, according to the Cree submission to the World Commission on Dams in November 2000.
"We have been dispossessed, displaced and environmentally, culturally, economically and socially devastated by large hydro-development projects, initiated and built in our traditional lands by the state owned electricity corporations Hydro-Quebec and Manitoba Hydro respectively, against our wishes and without our consent," the Cree said.
The governments of Canada, Quebec and Manitoba "have benefited from over 20 years of multi-billion dollar revenues at our expense," the Cree said, and they have not "adequately mitigated, remediated or compensated us as peoples for the profound and ongoing injuries and losses we have suffered."
"Deprived of adequate lands and resources, we now endure mass poverty and unemployment, ill health including epidemics of infectious disease and suicide, and crises of hopelessness and despair," they said.
This new agreement offers hope for a new relationship between the province of Quebec and the Cree Nation, said Chief Moses.
The agreement settles forestry disputes between Quebec and the Cree. The Quebec forestry regime will apply in Northern Quebec, but major adaptations will be made to this regime to ensure the protection of the Cree traditional way of life.
A joint Cree-Quebec Forestry Board will review forestry regulations and forestry plans for Cree territory and provide recommendations to conciliate forestry activities with the Cree traditional uses of the territory and the protection of the natural environment. "We will also be closely involved in all aspects of forestry planning and management through meaningful and results oriented consultation processes at the community level," Chief Moses said.
No other agreement entered into between the Crees and any government has been subjected to referendum processes involving the Cree Nation as a whole. The whole process involved two tours of the communities by the Cree leaders during which the people debated the issues more than at any time in recent Cree history. At the end of this, the Cree leadership listened to the demands of the Cree people and sought political confirmation through referendum processes of the decision to proceed or not with this new agreement.
"A substantial portion of the Cree People have obviously supported and endorsed the position taken by the majority of their leaders in favor of the new agreement," Chief Moses said Sunday.
Chief Moses and Quebec Premier Bernard Landry are to meet Thursday for a formal signing.
Implementation of the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement by the government of Canada is still subject to court proceedings.

31.01.02: New Danube Shipping Routes Ecologically and Economically Dangerous says WWF

31 January 2002 Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria - New shipping plans for the Danube River are ecologically dangerous, economically unsound and must be halted immediately according to a new report issued today by WWF, the conservation organization. The WWF report, “Waterway Transport on Europe’s Lifeline, the Danube”, shows that the various plans that are being proposed for shipping and navigation along the Danube will damage vital wetland ecosystems all along the river. Some significant threats include even greater pressure on species such as sturgeon and beavers, a decrease in the availability of drinking water, and increased levels of chemicals in the river. At the same time, the WWF report underlines that the plans take no account of current economic trends related to transport within Europe and hence do not make economic sense either. “The new projects are clearly the largest threat to the last few remaining natural areas in this part of Europe," said Philip Weller, Director of WWF's Danube Carpathian Programme. “WWF is not against shipping, but we are against those projects which make neither economic nor ecological sense." Ecological damage could be averted if the plans, developed by bodies including the European Commission, national governments bordering the Danube, and the Budapest-based inter-governmental Danube Commission, had taken account of current economic and technical trends. The WWF report shows that the plans are based on outdated technical arguments and that ecologically compatible river navigation is possible on Europe's major rivers, without the need for massive building, dredging, or river straightening works. At the same time, new ship-building technologies and information and communication systems can increase the productivity of inland navigation and ensure that it is competitive with the road transport industry. The plans for the Danube are not only against common sense, but they also conflict with national, international and EU nature protection regulations, and directly contradict recent commitments in the region. Regional commitment to protect the Danube peaked in April 2001 with the WWF-organized Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Carpathian and Danube Region in Bucharest, Romania. There, the UK’s Prince Philip and Presidents from nine countries in the region adopted a joint Declaration expressing their support for rehabilitating the Danube. “Experiences with Europe’s Rhine River prove that an intelligent shift is possible,” says Helmut Hiess, a key contributor to the report. “In addition, the Rhine, with far heavier water transport than the Danube, has a minimum depth of 2.1 metres; the proposed depth for the Danube is 3.2 metres. The numbers do not add up; in fact they reflect the lack of logic behind these plans.

- Download Study, Summary, Background, Maps...
(Website "ZINKE ENVIRONMENT CONSULTING for Central and Eastern Europe, Vienna

- more on WaterwaysProjects in Europe ( ERNs Website for living Rivers)
- CNN News (Warning of Danube shipping threat - January 31, 2002 Posted: 6:17 AM EST (1117 GMT)

Call on the European Commission:

The Danube shipping plans also conflict with national, international and EU nature protection regulations, and directly contradict recent commitments in the region. WWF therefore calls on the European Commission to:
Promote further open and transparent discussion on the content of these projects to ensure that they do take into account current economic and technical trends, which has not been the case so far. These should allow for the development of ecologically compatible navigation in the Danube.
2. Re-assess the projects and take measures (including consideration of all possible alternatives) to ensure that they do not contravene EU environmental standards, in particular those of the Habitats and Birds Directives and the Water Framework Directive.
3. Uphold the rules governing EU funding, in particular under the ISPA instrument (Instrument for Structural Polices for pre-Accession, Council Regulation EC/1267/1999). This states that "projects must comply with EU norms and standards, be coherent with the sector policies of the EU and environmentally sound development as defined by Articles 2 and 174" of the EU Treaty.
4. Note that the ISPA instrument can be used to fund preparatory studies and technical assistance, which in this case could fund the technical work required to develop ecologically compatible navigation in the Danube. The EC should encourage the Danube Accession countries to make use of this possibility.

" For more information: Paul Csagoly, Communications Manager, WWF Danube Carpathian Programme Office, tel: +36 30 250 5869, email: Lisa Hadeed: Communications Manager WWF Living Waters Programme, tel: +41 22 364 9030, email:

31.01.02: World Wetlands Day 2002 (2 February): "Wetlands: Water, Life, and Culture"

The suggested theme for World Wetlands Day 2002 is "Wetlands: Water, Life, and Culture". Wetlands are a storehouse of cultural heritage which takes many forms, from human-made physical structures and artefacts, palaeontological records in sediments and peat, and traditional water and land-use management practices, to places of religious and mythological significance and the intangible 'sense of place' felt by many for these wild and often mysterious sites and their wildlife. Throughout its history, the work of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has emphasized the importance of people in conservation efforts: their livelihoods, their welfare, their traditions and beliefs, their leisure as well as their work - not only their economic and social well-being, but their "cultural heritage" as well. Increasingly, the Parties have observed that there is much common ground in the biodiversity and heritage management of wetlands.
Background: 2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning. Subsequent World Wetlands Days have been organized around such suggested themes as the importance of water to life and of wetlands to the supply of water and, in 1999, on "People and Wetlands: the Vital Link". Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. From 1997 to 2001, the Convention's Web site has posted reports from more than 60 countries of WWD activities of all sizes and shapes, from lectures and seminars, nature walks, children's art contests, sampan races, and community clean-up days, to radio and television interviews and letters to newspapers, to the launch of new wetland policies, new Ramsar sites, and new programmes at the national level.

31.01.02: Conference announcement: UK : Public Participation under the EC Water Framework Directive

The recently introduced Water Framework Directive contains provision for a far greater role for public participation in the management of water resources at catchment scale. Article 14 of the directive calls for member states to 'encourage the active involvement of all interested parties in the implementation of this Directive, in particular in the production, review and updating of the River Basin Management Plans.'
The School of Water Sciences at Cranfield University is hosting a one-day conference on April 4th 2002 to discuss and debate a number of issues arising from this initiative, questions to be addressed include; What are the aims / objectives of public participation in the context of the WFD? What form(s) should / could consultation take ? What tools and techniques are available to facilitate / manage the process ? What experiences are there from the UK / Europe / elsewhere which can be learned from ? The program includes speakers from the European Commission, the Environment Agency, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Cabinet Office. This event is organised in conjunction with CIWEM and the IWA.
09.30 Registration and Coffee
10.00 Dr Paul Jeffrey, Cranfield University, UK
Chairman's morning introduction
10.10 Adam Harrison, World Wildlife Fund, UK
Models of participation
10.40 Richard Harris, Environmental Council, UK
Stakeholder dialogue as an alternative to consultation
11.10 Coffee
11.30 Dr. Eliot Taylor, University of East Anglia, UK
Managing public participation exercises: A community planning
Example from the Broads
12.00 Yvette de Garis, Thames Water, UK
Participation experiences in water resource development and
12.30 Lunch and exhibition
13.30 Paula Orr, Environment Agency, UK
Current consultation models used by the Environment Agency and
their relevance to the Water Framework Directive
14.00 Jacqui Cuff, European Environment Bureau
Public participation in the EU wise use of floodplains project
14.30 Drennan Watson, Landwise Scotland
Comparative assessment of stakeholder engagement methods
15.00 Paul Greening, Cabinet Office, UK
Examples of innovation and good practice in public participation
15.30 Ludwig Kraemer, European Commission (Environment Directorate)
The envisaged role of public participation in the Water Framework
16.00 Afternoon Tea and Close of Meeting

Further details can be found at Members of the UK Rivers Network are being offered a discount of ?15 on registration and you can book your place for this event by contacting;
Short Course Office: Cranfield University Cranfield MK43 0AL Tel: +44 (0)1234 754176 Fax: +44 (0)1234 751206 E-mail:

30.01.02: Impact of Belize dam in dispute

What is the point of gauging the environmental impact of a dam before it is built? Not a lot, if a row over a proposed hydroelectric scheme in Belize is anything to go by.
Location of proposed dam and potential flood area
A group of leading biologists reckon the Chalillo dam would destroy an area of rainforest containing rare and threatened species. But the companies that commissioned the biologists' report are not following its recommendation that the dam should not be built, one of the report's authors told New Scientist.
The dispute has highlighted growing concerns over the value placed on "environmental impact assessments". Last year, a report by the World Commission on Dams warned that recommendations about whether a dam should go ahead are no longer welcomed - contrary to the intention when EIAs were introduced in the 1970s.
Instead, EIAs have evolved into devices "to render dams acceptable when the decision to proceed has already been taken" by recommending ways to lessen their impact, says the commission.
"Ignored or rubbished"
Scientists from the Natural History Museum in London conducted an EIA of the proposed dam project, which is scheduled to start construction in January in the former British colony of Belize in Central America. In their official report, the researchers say that the Chalillo dam would do irreparable harm to one of the most biologically rich and diverse regions left in Central America, and they "highly recommend" that the scheme be dropped.
"What is the point of scientists undertaking environmental assessments if they are ignored or rubbished rather than being taken into proper consideration?" asks Alastair Rogers, a co-author of the report.
The proposed 35-metre dam is to be built on a remote stretch of Belize's Macal River and produce electricity for the surrounding provinces. It would flood 11 square kilometres of the river's pristine forested flood plain in remote mountains near the border with Guatemala.
The area contains rare species such as jaguar, Baird's tapir, Morelet's crocodile, ocelot, howler monkey and a population of 60 to 100 scarlet macaws--a subspecies of parrot of which fewer than a thousand remain worldwide. The report says the dam would "cause a rapid reduction and probable eventual extirpation" of the birds.
Draft report
The Canadian arm of the British engineering firm AMEC, a consultant on the construction of the $30 million project, commissioned the Natural History Museum to analyse the impact of the dam on wildlife as part of a wider EIA. The company has shunted its 105-page report into an appendix to the five-volume assessment, prefaced with a warning saying that it is "a draft report, and readers should formulate their conclusions accordingly".
But Rogers told New Scientist: "There are many scientists who are deeply concerned about this project and believe the facts speak for themselves." Rogers, a colonel in the British Royal Marine Reserve, has led five scientific expeditions to the dam region.
AMEC denies trying to bury the report. Fortis, the Canadian company that runs Belize's electricity industry and will own the dam, says that the report contains significant inaccuracies, including false claims that several species are endangered. The scientists deny this.
Fortis chief executive Stanley Marshall also recently claimed on Canadian radio that "from the time this report went to Britain it has been continuously leaked to environment groups and influenced by them".
But Rogers denies that activists have influenced the report. In a letter to the Belize government in September he said: "It is absolutely clear that constructing a dam at Chalillo would cause major, irreversible negative environmental impacts and destroy many important archaeological sites."
New Scientist 19:00 19 December 01 Fred Pearce

30.01.02: March 10 : Important demonstration for a new water culture and against the Spanish National Hydrological Plan in Barcelona

A big number of spanish, NGOs, academics, political parties and unions (supportetd by ERN and others) are calling for to demonstrate for a new waterculture and against the Spanish National Hydrological Plan in Barcelona (Sunday, 10 march).
Some national Events and conferences will be helt on March 7,8,9 ! ERN will informe you weekly on that importante event and will organize and coordinate transports to Bacelona.
Informations on the Spanish National Hydrological Plan on ERNs server:

24.01.02: Spanish Presidency's contradictory environmental plans !

Pressrelease by The Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
Brussels, 22 January, 2002
Reaction to the Spanish Environment Minister's address to the European Parliament this afternoon : Spanish Presidency's contradictory environmental plans ! Following a meeting of the European Parliament's Environment Committee with the Council President in Office this afternoon, Jaume Matas i Palou (The Spanish Environment Minister), where various questions on the Spanish National Hydrological Plan were posed by Euro-MPs, Alex de Roo MEP (Green Netherlands) Vice-President of the Environment Committee said:
"While I welcome Mr. Matas' suggestion that the EU should set higher standards for the Natura 2000 Directive in terms of implementation and financing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Habitat Directive, I find it astonishing that the Spanish Government representative can at the same time ask for EU money for financing the ecologically insane National Hydrological Plan.
"He clearly does not see the contradiction of asking for more EU money to be invested in the very Natura 2000 areas that he and his government wish to destroy. There are more than two hundred proposed Natura 2000 sites in Spain, of which many would be affected should the construction of heavy infrastructures for the huge transfers of water be permitted."
"It is also hypocritical that he claims that the Hydrological Plan is an internal matter for Spain only when his government is asking for a third of its financing to come from the EU. When confronted by difficult questions, being in possession of two different hats seems to suit the Spanish presidency." "I sincerely hope that Mr Matas is right when he said that the environment was a priority for the Spanish Presidency. If that is the case, it is rather bizarre that President Aznar forgot to mention that priority during his presentation of the presidency's priorities in the European Parliament last week."
"Finally, Mr Matas stated that the presidency is committed to add new indicators, such as health and biodiversity, as criteria for assessing the success of the EU's sustainable development strategy. But saying alone is not enough. They must also act and make these indicators compulsory instruments to be used during the policy making process."
Eluned Haf Press Office Green/ EFA group in the European Parliament Tel: Brussels: +32 2 284 1665 Strasbourg: +33 388 17 2936 Fax: Brussels: +32 2 284 4944 Strasbourg: +33 388 24 1196 ,GSM: 0497 480 255
Gianluca Solera, Adviser on Urban and Regional Affairs and Transport The Green/EFA Group, European Parliament Rue Wiertz, 1047 Brussels +32.2.284 22 02 ph +32.2.230 78 37 fx

More information on the Spanish Hydrological Plan

24.01.02: Spain's environment ministry published an environmental assessment of the country's controversial national hydrological plan

(Environment Daily 1142, 23/01/02)
Spain's environment ministry today published an environmental assessment of the country's controversial national hydrological plan (NHP) in a bid to defuse strong national and international criticism.
The ministry described the assessment as a "demonstration of willingness to guarantee the coherence and environmental friendliness of the NHP". The assessment confirmed the plan's compatibility with EU directives on natural habitats, wild birds and water management, it claimed.
The assessment's main conclusion is that "the shortage of water on Spain's Mediterranean coast, with the severe environmental and socio-economic impact which that entails, can only be met by the transfer of water resources from other parts of Spain". Planned water transfer projects have been at the heart of environmental dispute over the NHP.
It was prepared in line with the EU's new strategic environmental assessment (SEA) directive, which entered into force last year, but which member states are not obliged to implement until 2004 .
The law is aimed at programmes and plans rather than individual projects, for which environmental impact assessment rules already exist.
The review is unlikely to satisfy environmentalists, who have been calling for a detailed assessment under article six of the 1992 habitats directive, in particular to evaluate likely impacts on the approximately 130 sites nominated to join the EU's Natura 2000 protected areas network. NGO Ecologists in Action described it as a "propaganda document," produced by the government to evade its responsibilities.
Senior EU figures have also been urging Spain to assess the NHP under the habitats directive. However, a source in the European Commission told Environment Daily today that he "could not rule out the possibility that this kind of assessment would be acceptable to satisfy the requirements of the habitats directive".
Follow-up: Spanish environment ministry, tel: +34 91 597 6000; Ecologists in Action, tel: +34 91 531 2739.

More information on the Spanish Hydrological Plan

24.01.02: Spain notifies EU of controversial water plan

BRUSSELS - Spain has presented details of a controversial plan to redirect water from its humid north to arid south to the European Commission, Environment Minister Jaume Matas said this week.

The $21 billion project to channel water from the river Ebro to irrigate arid regions in the southeast has outraged environmentalists, who say it will destabilise the ecology and break European water management and nature laws.
Matas said he was confident the project complied with EU rules. Spain had volunteered to give the European Commission detailed plans but did not expect any interference from Brussels as the issue was purely a matter for Spain, he added.

"We are talking about a matter which is well within the competence of member states and we don't really see why it would need to be regulated by the Commission," Matas told a news briefing at the European Parliament.

Environmentalist are campaigning to ensure the plan gets no funding from EU coffers.

Reuters News Service

More information on the Spanish Hydrological Plan


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