A project set to supply electricity to Colombia’s coffee belt is sparking controversy after officials and environmental specialists have spoken out and threatened to block the project scheduled to begin in August, according to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.
The controversy is centered around the impacts that the project may or may not have on local wildlife and the environment.
“Project Armenia” would take power from Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risaralda to Quindio, crossing an important nature reserve in western Colombia. The Barbas-Bremen park, located in the mountains north of Quindio, is home to hundreds of wild animals that may be at risk.
The project would put in place towers 165 feet high, carrying 230,000 volts, according to El Espectador.
“These electromagnetic fields certainly will affect the lives of birds, insects, and bees,” said Nestor Ocampo, a member of the Cosmos Environmental Foundation.
Governor of Quindio, Sandra Paola Hurtado, expressed her opposition to the project, along with the National Agency of Environmental Licenses (ANLA).
“With or without a license, if we have to militarize Barbas-Bremen, and if we have to go camping to avoid any work that is not attached to new alternatives that mitigate the environmental impact, we will,” said Hurtado.
The project, slated to begin operations August 30, was conceived by the Energy Company of Bogota (EEB), an organization which said the “coffee cultural landscape” would not be affected as they would use a helicopter to lay electrical wires to prevent gaps in forest cover, according to the company’s website.
The Energy Company of Bogota’s Plan
“The project was designed in such a way that will not cause the effect on wildlife species whose habitat is forests in the Conservation District Soil of Barbas-Bremen,” according to the company’s plan.
- UPME Armenia Project 02-2009 (EEB)
- Comunidad se opone a proyecto energético en Quindío (EL Espectador)