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Showdown looms at Nema over Sh 210b Lamu coal plant

A showdown looms on Monday (May 29, 2017) between environmental conservationists and the firms behind the Sh 210 billion coal power plant in Lamu County.

The showdown is expected during the hearings into the proposed and controversial coal fired power plant before the National Environment Tribunal sitting at National Environmental Management (Nema) offices in Nairobi.

The National Environment Tribunal sittings will take place on May 29, 2017 and May 30, 2017.

Environmentalists are questioning why the Kenya government want to set up a coal plant in Lamu which is among the selected few locations in the world declared as Unesco World Heritage sites.

The plans to set up a coal plant in Lamu is also coming at time when countries around the world are abandoning fossil fuel powered pants and instead embracing renewable energy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter witness the signing of an agreement deal between Amu Power and China Power Global. PHOTO/PSCU

According to Dr John Musingi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, says the proposed Lamu coal plant goes against the National Climate Change Action Plan (A creature created by the Climate Change Act, 2016) where the government pledges for low carbon development pathway.

“The project will raise the carbon level by a massive 8.8 million tonnes instantly from only one source!” he exclaims adding that this is happening yet the Kenya government promised in the Paris Climate Agreement to maintain a low emission development pathway.

The environmental groups opposed to establishment of a coal plant in Lamu say the government should instead set up a solar farm in Lamu.

The government is also planning to up another coal plant in Kitui County.

The organizations opposing the coal plant in Lamu include UNESCO, Lamu Juu, the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the local communities of Lamu.

Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor projects. MAP/COURTESY

The proposed $2.1 billion (ksh210 billion) Amu Power coal plant is

According a marine biologist, Dr David Obura, the planned Lamu coal plant has a huge negative impact on the area residents, the surrounding land vegetation and marine life.

“This is not just any project, this coal plant will be Kenya’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and may be Kenya’s single largest emitter of toxic substances to the environment ” Dr Obura says.

Several local and international environmentalists and power experts will give their views to the National Environment Tribunal why Kenya does not need to invest in a coal plant in Lamu.

Francis Njogu, the Amu Power Company CEO. PHOTO/COURTESY

The proposed $2.1 billion (ksh210 billion) Amu Power plant is the project of Kenya’s Centum Investments, China Huadin and China Power Global.

The Lamu power generating coal plant is incorporated as part of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor projects .

The plant is expected to inject 1050MW into the national power grid.

However, environmentalists insist coal power plant  will be Kenya’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and may be Kenya’s single largest emitter of toxic substances to the environment.

By Patrick Mayoyo, Daily Reporter