Hydroelectric development in Quebec takes hit with Plan Nord revision

MONTREAL, Quebec 2/10/12 (PennWell) -- A measure being hailed as the "largest environmental conservation project on the planet" could close as much as 30% of Quebec's northern territory from hydroelectric development, sources report.

The proposal is part of a new set of guidelines for Quebec's "Plan Nord," unveiled by Quebec premier Jean Charest. Plan Nord, announced in May 2011, is a 25-year, US$80.5 billion plan that seeks to protect 50% of the province's northern wilderness territory. Originally, Plan Nord called for only 20% of the wilderness to be protected.

"We are proud of this heritage, and we want to make the Plan Nord a sustainable development and environmental protection benchmark worldwide," Charest said.

When first enacted, Plan Nord sought to increase Quebec's renewable energy output and also included measures for mining, forestry, tourism and wildlife development.

However, sources say pressure from various environmental protection groups and native Inuit tribes have led the government to scale back its aggressive energy development plan, which once included as much as 2,000 MW of hydroelectric power from about 50 potential sites.

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