Proyecto Central Termoeléctrica Castilla (CGX Castilla Generación S. A.)

Energy Coal and gas power plants
Environmental Impact Assessment Cumulative Impacts
Precautionary Principle

Proyecto Central Termoeléctrica Castilla (CGX Castilla Generación S. A.), La Tercera Sala del Corte Suprema (28 August 2012)

The Chilean Supreme Court revoked the environmental permits for the construction of Central Castilla, which would have been the largest proposed coal-fired power plant in South America.  Project proponents submitted three separate EIAs for the power plant, a transmission line, and a port for coal imports.  Applying the precautionary principle, the Supreme Court declared that the projects should be assessed together to determine the actual area of influence and cumulative impacts.

The Court also found that fragmenting the project violated the right to live “free of pollutants.” 

In addition, the Court re-classified the activity as a “pollutant activity.” Initially, health authorities classified the activity as “pollutant” but later changed this classification to “molesta” (activity that “bothers”). This classification impacted whether the activities were allowed under local zoning regulations. The Court found that in choosing between the two, the classification that provides stronger protection for the environment should be preferred, therefore requiring classification as a “pollutant” activity.