Hydrochina Corporation Xinping Development Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Xinping Company) developed and constructed the Jiasa River Grade I Hydropower Station in Red River, Yunnan. According to Annex 1 Distribution of Red Lines of Ecological Protection in Yunnan Province of the Red Lines of Ecological Protection in Yunnan Province, most of the potential inundated area of the hydropower station involved in this case has been allocated into the protection red line range of the Red River (Yuan River) dry-hot valley and the ecological conservation of the original water and soil. In this area, the green peacock is a key protected species. In July 2017, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment ordered Xinping Company to carry out a post-environmental impact assessment of the project, before the completion of which, no water storage is allowed for power generation. After that, Xinping Company immediately stopped the construction of the hydropower station construction involved in this case. Beijing Chaoyang District Friends of Nature Environmental Research Institute (hereinafter referred to as "Friends of Nature") involved in this case brought a civil public interest litigation claiming that once the waterpower station started to store water, the green peacock habitat would be submerged and the green peacock may be extinct, and the Cycas Chenii in this area would be endangered, and that the local precious dry-hot valley monsoon rainforest ecosystem would be destroyed.
The Intermediate People's Court of Kunming City of Yunnan Province held at the first instance hearing that the case was a preventive environmental public interest litigation. According to Article 8 of the Supreme People's Court's Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in Environmental Civil Public Interest Litigation, Friends of Nature provided evidence to prove that the potential inundated area of the hydropower station in question is a frequent activity area of green peacocks, which constitutes their biological habitat. Once submerged, it is likely to cause serious damage to the survival of green peacocks. At the same time, the original environmental impact report of the hydropower station involved in this case did not involve the protection of the Cycas Chenii. If the construction continues, the survival of the rare animals and plants in this area will face significant risks. Therefore, it was ruled that Xinping Company should immediately stop the construction of the hydropower station involved in this case, and after it has completed the post-environmental impact assessment and filing work as required by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the relevant administrative department should make a decision in accordance with the law based on the specific circumstances. Yunnan High People's Court affirmed the first-instance judgment at the second instance hearing.
This case is a preventive environmental civil public interest litigation for the protection of rare wild animals and plants. Preventive public interest litigation is an important manifestation of the implementation of the principle of focusing on in environmental resource trials, making a breakthrough to the traditional concept that where there is remedy, there is damage, provides ex-ante and interim ecological and environmental protection, and is conducive to increasing ecological and environmental protection and preventing damage to the ecology and environment or further aggravation of damage. In this case, Friends of Nature provided evidence that if the hydropower station involved in this case continued to be constructed, it would inevitably lead to the inundation of the living environment of the green peacock, a national Grade I key protected animal, the green peacock, and the national Grade I key protected plant, Cycas Chenii, which would lead to an visually predicted and irreversible damages to the biodiversity and genetics resources in the area. The people's court implemented the spirit of the important instruction of President XI Jinping "to step up conservation of the Yangtze River and stop its over development" and thus ruled that Xinping Company should stop the construction of hydropower stations based on existing environmental impact assessment, and ordered the improvement of relevant procedures and provided powerful judicial safeguards for the protection of the biodiversity of the Yangtze River Basin.