A further Stage Win and a Huge Question Mark

Landau, 9 February 2020.

On 7 February we published the text "A further Stage Win“ here: „Five years ago, on 30 January 2015, the Cruz Grande Port Project of the company CMP (Compania Minera del Pacífico S.A.) was approved. At that time Sphenisco, together with Chilean environmentalists, called attention of President Michelle Bachelet and relevant authorities to the dangers for the sensitive maritime region and to serious shortcomings in the environmental impact assessment. Without any success.

For unknown reasons the company CMP has not started the construction of the Cruz Grande Port in the last few years. The approval was limited to five years and expired end of last month. Therefore, the NGO Oceana is requesting an official confirmation from the Ministry of the Environment of the Coquimbo region that the deadline for the construction project has expired and thus also the approval is no longer valid. Sphenisco rejoices with the inhabitants of the coastal villages in the municipality of La Higuera and their fellow campaigners in Chile.“

All facts are correct and yet, unfortunately, there is a significant snag in the good news, as we have learned in further research. The company CMP (Compania Minera del Pacífico S.A) could not or did not want to start building the port. Instead, they intend to start planting trees, a compensatory measure to which the company was committed when the port was approved. They applied for planting trees to CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal) in Coquimbo in January, which was within the deadline. However, the plot which has been chosen to be planted is too small for the required number of trees. So far CONAF has not decided on the application. CMP now takes the view that the construction of the port began with the application and that therefore the licence has not expired. Given the current orientation of government policy, it is unfortunately not impossible that CMP will get away with this "trick" at CONAF and the Ministry of the Environment. Oceana and the environmental movement view things differently. They are considering legal action and want to provide clarity with the initiative at the Ministry of the Environment..

CMP's (unsettled) hesitation has improved the prospects of saving the precious ecosystem, so it is already a stage win. To preserve it, however, a lot of work and commitment are still required in the future.

W.K.

translated by Angelika Veelken

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