The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office has announced its ‘conditional’ approval of the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project, this despite wide-ranging opposition from local residents and environmental groups, says a press release from the Wilderness Committee.
The 121-megawatt independent power project (IPP) consists of three run-of-river hydro facilities located on the Upper Lillooet River, North Creek and Boulder Creek, and is located in fish habitat including Coho salmon and trout habitat.
“To say that this project will not have ‘significant adverse effects’ disregards a mountain of evidence that has emerged about the environmental impacts of private run-of-river projects,” said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director with the Wilderness Committee.
“If (Environment) Minister (Terry) Lake has his feet on the ground, he should be aware of government documents showing 'considerable non-compliance' at operating IPPs, particularly in the Sea-to-Sky district. Given that knowledge, I’m asking the Minister why he has approved this project,” Barlee said.
Canada’s largest membership based, citizen funded wilderness protection group says this project would dramatically reduce the flow of iconic Keyhole Falls and the approval of this project also draws attention to the completely inadequate oversight on IPPs by both federal and provincial bodies, particularly considering recent budget cuts and changes to the Fisheries Act.
The conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate – granted on Thursday, January 10 – includes 37 conditions to be monitored by the owners, Ledcor and Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. However, the Wilderness Committee feels the majority of these conditions are weak and unlikely to result in meaningful mitigation of environmental impacts.