Innu approve Lower Churchill hydro project deal in Canada

An aboriginal group has voted in favor of an agreement to approve the multi-billion dollar Lower Churchill hydropower project in Labrador, Canada, news agencies reported.

The agreement approves the Lower Churchill hydro project, settles the land claim and provides compensation for the Churchill Falls dam that was built in the 1960s.

Joseph Riche, grand chief of the Innu nation, said that in preliminary results the community of Sheshatshiu voted 84 percent in favor, while the community of Natuashish voted 96 percent in favor, media reports indicate. There are about 2,400 Innu living in the Labrador communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.

Nalcor and Emera's $6.2-billion Phase 1 of Lower Churchill includes an 824-MW hydro plant at Muskrat Falls and undersea transmission lines linking Labrador, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. 

The "New Dawn" agreement gives Innu hunting rights in large parts of Labrador and ends a decades-old dispute. The Innu will have a stake in the hydro project and collect millions in royalties, media reported.

Nalcor said previously that the C$6.2 billion Lower Churchill hydro project would include a pair of generating facilities at Muskrat Falls and Gull Island, with a combined capacity of more than 3,000 MW.

The Muskrat Falls project should deliver power to Nova Scotia by 2017, the Toronto Star reported. The Gull Island project would be about three years behind, reports indicate.

The hydroelectric power project now needs to clear an environmental assessment, CBC News reported.

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