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Massive hydro project bypassing BC enviro assessment process: conservationists

A coalition of conservation groups is asking a judge to overrule the provincial environmental assessment agency and force a review of a massive hydro-electric project in northern British Columbia.

The Holmes River hydro project consists of 10 generation sites along a 40-kilometre stretch of the river near McBride, B.C., generating an estimated 78 megawatts of electricity.

The Watershed Watch Salmon Society and the David Suzuki Foundation say the massive project should, under provincial law, undergo an environmental assessment.

But the Environmental Assessment Office has allowed BC Hydro to file each generation site as a separate, small-scale project that does not require an assessment.

Watershed spokesman Aaron Hill says allowing the project to be split up sets a dangerous precedent that waters down the provincial environmental assessment process for this and other projects in the future.

A lawyer for the group Ecojustice is asking a B.C. Supreme Court judge for a judicial review that could force an environmental assessment.

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