The Chalillo dam came one step closer to reality today as an action in the Supreme Court brought by environmentalists was dismissed.

BACONGO, the Belize Alliance of Conservation NGOs, sought judicial review of several decisions made by the Public Utilities Commission.  These were the approval in January of a revised power purchase agreement between Belize Electricity Limited and BECOL, as well as a request for proposals from independent power producers to supply electricity to B.E.L. 

BACONGO claimed that the power purchase approval was in fact a back door go-ahead for construction of Chalillo, while the request to independent power producers was an abdication of the P.U.C.'s duty to promote competition.  

In dismissing both applications, Justice Christopher Blackman ruled that the acts of any official body like the P.U.C.  are presumed to be in order, unless the plaintiff can prove bad faith or the improper exercise of discretion or authority.  In this case, BACONGO did not overcome that burden of proof.  

Representing the P.U.C.  were attorneys Derek Courtenay and Michel Chebat.  Michael Young appeared for B.E.L., while presenting the case for BACONGO was Dean Barrow and Lois Young Barrow.  BACONGO was ordered to pay fees for all the lawyers.  

The next legal round in the Chalillo battle will take place in the Supreme Court on July fifteenth.  In that case, BACONGO is suing the Department of the Environment and the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, NEAC, alleging that they failed to follow proper procedures in approving the environmental impact assessment submitted by BECOL for the Chalillo project. 

In that confrontation BACONGO's team of Barrow and Young Barrow will go up against Dean's brother Denys, who has been hired by the government, as well as B.E.L.'s attorney Michael Young.  Young told News 5 that his client will "vigorously defend the right of Belize's legally constituted agencies to determine the future of the Chalillo project, free from the influence of local or foreign pressure groups."

- Part of Channel5 Television Newscast -
www.channel5belize.com/news