NEWS

Police remove blockade at La Romaine hydro complex

03/10/2012 12:58 EST | Updated 05/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Quebec provincial police moved in Friday night to remove a blockade erected by members of the Innu community protesting against the construction of hydro transmission lines across ancestral lands.

The protesters started blocking access to the La Romaine Hydroelectric Complex near Sept-Îles on Monday.

Earlier on Friday, Hydro-Québec obtained an interim injunction ordering the removal of the blockade, but protesters refused to comply.

When police arrived, the group passively resisted as officers made 13 arrests.

Despite opposition from environmental groups, the $6.5 billion La Romaine hydro project was approved by Quebec's environmental assessment board in March 2009. The project is expected to be completed in 2020.

But the Innu communities of Uashat and Maliotenam contend that board's decision did not take into account how the transmission lines would affect their land.

Hydro-Québec made an initial offer of $4 million in compensation for the 500 kilometres of transmission lines. That offer was rejected by the Innu.

The community participated in discussions with Hydro-Québec with the help of a provincially-appointed negotiator.

In 2011, the two parties signed a letter of intent, bringing them closer to striking a deal.

But that agreement was never ratified, after the majority of the Uashat-Maliotenam Innu rejected it in a referendum vote.

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