Environmental advocates warn about proposed P26-B hydropower project in Aklan town | Inquirer News
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Environmental advocates warn about proposed P26-B hydropower project in Aklan town

/ 03:16 PM October 12, 2021

ILOILO CITY—A proposed P26.3 billion hydropower project in Aklan poses risks to a natural park and ecotourism activities of affected communities, environmentalists warned.

In a position paper, the Protect Northwest Peninsula and Parks and its Watersheds (PNPP) said the site of the planned 300-megawatt project of the Strategic Power Development Corporation (SPDC) in Barangay Nabaoy in Malay town was also a “sacred ground” for hunting and gathering activities of the indigenous Ati community.

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The PNPP said Nabaoy, a watershed for Malay, including Boracay Island, hosts two community-based ecotourism sites, the Nabaoy River and Nagata Falls.

“Tourism is an integral part of Barangay Nabaoy, and most community members derive benefits from visitors who can potentially provide a source of income for the local business, help to sustain local services, and protect community assets,” it said.

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It said the hydropower project “will utilize and control critical portions of the river water, which can cause a negative impact on the natural environment and affect the tourism planning and development of Barangay Nabaoy.”

The SPDC is proposing the project in an area covering 122.79 hectares, including 97.89 ha within forest land and 24.90 in a protected zone.

The project involves two dams, waterways, and an underground powerhouse to be built in 4.5 years.

“The Aklan Pumped-Storage Hydropower Project is designed to generate electricity during the peak period and pump-back the water used during the off-peak period through a reversible pump-turbine system daily,” according to its project description.

The SPDC said the project was expected to partly address the renewable energy requirement and help stabilize the Visayas power grid. This also addresses the need for more power generators in the region.

The project will provide employment and livelihood opportunities to residents and their families as hiring workers will prioritize qualified residents.

Among the advantages it cited were additional revenues for the barangay and town.

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SPDC also proposed ways to address possible impacts, including the rehabilitation, reforestation, and revegetation of affected areas.

But in a resolution passed July 22, the Malay municipal council said the project “will ultimately result in the complete destruction and degradation of the ecologically balanced and pristine nature of (its) riverine system.”

The council also decried what it said was the lack of transparency, “prior intensive consultations,” and dialogues with the community regarding the project.

It pointed out that the rivers and environment of Nabaoy were part of the natural park comprising the Northwest Panay Peninsula.

The Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park has been declared a protected area for its wide range of flora and fauna.

The Nabaoy River is the source of potable water for Boracay Island.

The Nabaoy Barangay Council and the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Malay have also passed separate resolutions opposing the project.

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TAGS: Aklan, ecotourism, environmentalists, hydropower project, natural park, Regions, risks
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