At The Guardian, Jonathan Kaiman reports the approval by Chinese environmental officials of a proposed 314-meter-tall dam despite fears about its effects on the ecology of Sichuan’s Dadu River, an indirect tributary of the Yangtze. The new dam would stand almost 130 meters taller than the Three Gorges Dam, and 14 taller than the current world leader, Tajikistan’s Soviet-built Nurek Dam.
China’s environment ministry acknowledged that the dam would have an impact on the area’s highly biodiverse flora and fauna.
“The project will affect the spawning and movement of rare fish species, as well as the growth of endangered plants, including the Chinese yew, which is under first-class state protection,” the ministry said, according to Xinhua.
The ministry proposed counter-measures to mitigate the environmental impact, such as “protecting fish habitats in tributaries, building fish ladders and increasing fish breeding and releasing”, Xinhua reported. The project is still awaiting a final go-ahead from China’s state council. [Source]
Reuters’ David Stanway notes that state power firm Guodian, a subsidiary of which will build the new Shuangjiangkou dam, has previously faced criticism from the government for starting work on projects before receiving final approval.
Large-scale hydropower is central to Beijing’s plans for greater use of fossil fuel alternatives. It faces strong and widespread opposition, however, because of its impact on communities, plants and wildlife, to say nothing of accusations that it can increase the risk of landslides and earthquakes. Another currently contentious hydropower project is the long-delayed series of dams on the upper Nu (or Salween) River. For more on the Nu dams and related environmental issues, see ‘Dams & Deforestation: Yunnan’s Water Woes‘ at CDT.