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Reports confirm Turkish dam's threat to environment

News

TWO REPORTS on Turkey's controversial Ilisu dam confirm that the scheme poses serious environmental and social threats.

Release of the reports, carried out for the Export Credits Guarantee Department, coincided with a statement by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers that he was 'minded' to grant an application from the scheme's preferred contractor Balfour Beatty for a £220M export credit guarantee.

The £990M hydroelectric project includes an earth fill dam which would be built on the Tigris river upstream of Syria and Iraq in an area heavily populated by Kurds. It was first approved by the Turkish government in 1982.

No site visits have been permitted by the Turkish government. Consultant ERM, responsible for reviewing the ECGD's own environmental impact assessment, has been forced to evaluate potential hazards using documentation alone.

ERM lists as pressing issues:

The cumulative environmental impact of Ilisu dam in conjunction with another proposed dam project at Cizre, which could lead to the loss of extensive riverine habitats upstream and have a major impact on flow downstream.

Failure to account for the relocation of existing infrastructure within the reservoir area, or for the provision of new roads for construction purposes.

Failure to assess the impact of building power transmission lines.

The EIA did not take into account the impact of the new dam on Syria and Iraq.

The second ECGD report states that up to 20,000 people will be displaced if the project goes ahead.

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