Permit for 500mw hydro project denied

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KIBUNGAN, Benguet – The Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office recommended the denial of the application for a special Land Use Permit (SLUP) by the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation (CBC), the proponent of the ambitious 500mw pump storage hydro project in barangay Badeo, due to alleged overlapping of the area that was previously granted a Forest Land Agreement (FLAG) by the agency.

In his letter to Apolinario S. Bagano, Sr., CBC chief executive officer, PENRO Carlis Arida stated that based on the evaluation and observations made in the area being applied for and after series of technical meetings conducted to exhaust possible remedies wherein both parties were given sufficient time to come up with their respective solutions, the agency recommended for the denial of the company’s application for SLUP considering that the subject are being applied for in barangay Badeo overlaps the permitted area of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) which is now currently building its proposed 60-megawatt run-of-river plant in Kapangan and Kibungan towns.

Arida added that the approved forest land use agreement of COHECO 60 grants them the exclusive right to occupy, manage and develop their permitted area for the establishment and operation of their 60-megawatt hydroelectric power generation system.

Further, the environment officer noted that based on the assessment of the conflict area as provided for in Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10752, stated that when it is necessary to build, construct, or install on the sub-surface or subterranean portion of private and government-owned lands owned, occupied or leased by other persons, such infrastructure as subways, tunnels, underpasses, waterways, floodways, or utility facilities as part of the government’s infrastructure and development project, the government or any of its authorized representatives  shall not be prevented from entry into and use of such private and government lands by surface owners or occupants, if such entry and use are made more than 50 meters from the surface, the implementing agency shall duly consult with and notify the affected owners of any acquisition of subsurface right of way needed for the infrastructure projects.

“COHECO 60 has already acquired prior rights over the area being applied for, moreover, COHECO 60 reiterated that the company is not amenable to any proposal for co-existence and prayed for the outright denial of the latest application of Coheco Badeo Corporation in the said area,” Arida stressed.

Earlier, the DENR granted the application of COHECO for a 25-yer forest land use agreement of more than 16 hectares in barangay Badeo to be used for the construction of its power house among other infrastructures for the eventual operation of its proposed run-of-river hydro project in the area.

However, Coheco Badeo Corporation filed its application for the issuance of special land use agreement in almost the same area that was earlier granted a permit which would directly affect the power house of COHECO among other major infrastructures of their hydro power plant that is now being constructed pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.

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