THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the cessation of construction operations of mini-hydroelectric power plant developer Hydrotec Renewables Inc. at Sitio Campuestohan, Barangay Cabatangan in Talisay City, and in Barangay Bunga, Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental.

The instruction from DENR-Negros Island Region Director Al Orolfo and memorandum from Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio was attached to the memorandum issued by Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim.

Orolfo’s order stated that the memorandum of agreements in favor of the two proposed mini-hydroelectric power plants within the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) cannot be given due course.

“This is in pursuant to Section 14 (Survey for Energy Resources) of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (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.

It also provided in Section 14 of RA 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.”

The Northern Negros Natural Park falls within the exception, Orolfo added.

The DENR memorandum further stated: “Notwithstanding the merits of the projects and endorsement by the local government units and Protected Area Management Board of NNNP, compliance with the Nipas Act shall remain mandatory.”