Finnish hydropower scheme rebuffed

Administrative courts overturn construction permit to protect threatened Kemihaara wetlands

To the delight of environmental groups, Finland's administrative courts have overturned an earlier court decision permitting power firm Kemijoki Oy to construct a large hydroelectric dam at Vuotos in eastern Lapland (EED 01/03/00).

The dam's 240-square-kilometre reservoir would have drowned Kemihaara Mires, one of 18 sites the European Commission last year urged Finland to protect under the EU wild birds directive. The Commission, specifically criticised both the omission of the mires from its list of sites nominated to join the Natura 2000 network and the granting of the permit to build the dam. The administrative courts' decision is nevertheless based purely on national environmental legislation.

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