Brazilian court halts building of huge Belo Monte dam

Federal courts in Brazil have forced a halt to building works on what was set to be the world’s third largest hydropower plant in the world. This week the courts […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Federal courts in Brazil have forced a halt to building works on what was set to be the world’s third largest hydropower plant in the world.

This week the courts ruled the local indigenous population had not been properly consulted about the impact of the Belo Monte Dam which will generate 11,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Norte Energy, the firm in charge of the £10billion building project, is said to face fines of $250,000 (£160k) if work continues on the site. It is possible the ruling could be appealed.

The dam is part of Brazil’s 2011-2020 energy expansion plan, according to academics, which could see more than 48 large dams built on the Amazon River (pictured).

The Belo Monte project has fought off fierce criticism since approval from authorities in 2005. Construction began in January this year but as recently as June protestors stormed the building site.

Campaigners at Amazon Watch say the dam’s reservoirs will flood more than 668 km2, forcing 20,000 people out of their homes, while causing drought on part of the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon.