Nicaragua Grand Inter-Oceanic Canal Project Passes Environmental Impact Hurdle
Nov. 30, 2015 (EIRNS)—Telemaco Talavera, spokesman for Nicaragua’s Grand Canal Commission, announced three days ago the commission’s expectation that work on building the Brito port on the Pacific end of the Canal project will begin in earnest in the beginning of 2016; Canal excavation and lock work is expected to start in the last half of 2016. HKND, the Chinese company which holds the concession for building and operating the canal, was widely reported to have pushed the date back to the end of 2016.
That timeframe is behind the originally-projected start, but does not justify the "Nicaragua Canal put off and may never be built" lie being broadcast widely by the trans-Atlantic media.
The delay is the result of the time it took to prepare, present and discuss the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, carried out at HKND’s request by the British environmental consultancy ERM. ERM’s report found the project would have a "Net Positive Impact" both on the environment and social conditions in Nicaragua, while recommending specific changes in the canal project (e.g. moving locks on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides more inland) which took some re-engineering on the overall plan.
Nicaragua and Panama Canals Map
The government and HKND held nine public consultation meetings on the ESIA report in September and October, in which around 3,000 people—businessmen, university students, representatives of communities along the Canal route, trade unionists, scientists, religious groups, environmentalists, NGOs, foreign diplomats, etc.— participated. The consultations, some raucous, served to build support for the Canal project, even managing to split some of the more rational environmentalists from the hard core, "irrational conservationists" Prince Philip-types. On Nov. 5, the government issued an environmental license for the project to move forward.
Talavera and other Nicaraguan government officials say that now the stalled work on building the Brito port can proceed, a precondition for being able to disembark the huge earth-moving machinery required to begin excavation later in the year.