The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has halted construction of two mini-hydroelectric power plants, which are both located within the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
The two power plants, both owned by the German firm Hydrotec Renewables Inc., are situated in Barangay Cabatangan in Talisay City and Barangay Bunga in Don Salvador town in Negros Occidental province.
The cessation order was issued by DENR-Negros Island Regional Director Al Orolfo, based on two separate memorandums from the DENR central office in Quezon City signed by Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio and Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau.
Both Ignacio and Lim said the memorandum of agreement in favor of the two proposed mini hydroelectric power plants within the NNNP "cannot be given due course" for violating Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.
"This is in pursuant to Section 14 (Survey for Energy Resources) of the NIPAS Act, protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas," Orolfo said in his order, quoting the two DENR memorandums.
The order also cited Section 14 of R.A. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act, which states that "all renewable energy explorations, development, utilization, and renewable energy systems operations shall be conducted in accordance with existing environmental regulations as prescribed by the DENR and/or any other concerned government agency." ###