Environmentalists lose battle to stop Canadian dam in Belize

Britain's Privy Council rejects environmental objections to Belize dam project.

A Canadian-backed hydroelectric dam project in Belize has been given the green light by the highest court in Britain.

A panel of judges from Britain's Privy Council, the final court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries including Belize, ruled on Thursday that the Chalillo dam project can go ahead.

The dam is being built on the country's Macal River by the Belize Electric Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Newfoundland company Fortis Inc.

A coalition of environmental groups had appealed to the Privy Council to have the project stopped.

They argued the project's environmental studies were flawed and didn't conform to regulations in Belize.

Stan Marshall, the chief executive officer of Fortis, called the ruling a victory for his company and the people of Belize, who he said support the dam.

"I welcomed the court challenge," said Marshall. "In seven or eight court cases, they haven't won one, and now the legal process is over."

The project should be completed within the next 12 months, he said.