Kenya: Lamu County Suspends Sh200 Billion Coal Plant Project
Source: All Africa
The Lamu government has directed that the Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant project intended to be set up in the county be denied a licence to operate.
The county’s leadership has asked the National Environment and Management Authority (Nema) not to allow the power plant to operate.
The county government argues that among other things, the project sponsors had not given a proper explanation on how they would deal with environmental issues given that “coal is hazardous to health and environment.”
The Lamu government also complained that views of some critical and relevant government institutions were not sought in relation to the development and setting up of the controversial coal plant.
In a letter to Nema signed by the executive officer in charge of Health and Environment Mohamed Kombo, the county government also demanded that the investors sign a deal with the county administration on how adverse effects of the power plant would be address should they arise.
Lamu, said Dr Mohamed, was home to the largest wildlife concentrations and critical marine biodiversity, livestock, forest, special and critical national assets such as the new Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) project, and it was important that institutions associated with such be consulted.
The input of organisations such as the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri), Nema, National Museums of Kenya (NMK) among others on the same is critical,” stated the letter.
Nema had issued a 30-day period to enable Lamu residents read and present views and recommendations on an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report concerning the effects of the project to the environment and health.
The county leadership also argues that Lamu has now been connected to the national power and there were no longer any benefits of coal powered electricity with its attendant inherent environmental hazards.
“If the justification of the project was to provide sufficient power source to Lamu, this has already been overtaken by events.
“It is therefore important for the project to be shifted to another county with sufficient water but which has not yet been connected to the national grid.”
The project, which is by Amu Power Company, a consortium of two co-sponsors, Gulf Energy and Centum Investment, is to be established at Kwasasi area in Hindi Division and is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity once complete.
The sponsors say the purpose of the project is to provide affordable electricity and also in the face of increased demand emanating from proposed industrial parks, the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) projects, resort cities, iron and steel smelting industry and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
The county also questioned the failure by the ESIA report to “clearly” state the fate of the more than 600 residents of Kwasasi whose land would be acquired for the project.The county also raised the issue of employment for locals.
“Two or three thousand people employed directly and others indirectly. This might bring demographic shift or imbalance that can potentially result into conflicts, politically, socially, culturally and economically.”
Nema was asked not to licence the plant given that the ESIA report had “procedural, legal and technical challenges” until issues raised are addressed.