BC’s Upper Lillooet Hydro Project given “conditional” approval

Image from the Wilderness Committee.
Image from the Wilderness Committee.

Vancouver – Despite wide-ranging opposition from local residents and environmental groups, the BC Environmental Assessment Office has announced its “conditional” approval of the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project.

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, which include key fish habitat including coho salmon and trout habitat. The project would dramatically reduce the flow of iconic Keyhole Falls.

The conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate, granted on January 10, includes 37 conditions to be monitored by the owners, Ledcor and Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. Environmental groups, however, suggest that the majority of these conditions are weak and unlikely to result in meaningful mitigation of environmental impacts.

A statement from the Environmental Assessment Office said that “the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the mitigation measures and conditions of the Environmental Assessment Certificate.”

“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.

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.