Kuyasa Mining and KiPower have withdrawn their opposition to the court challenge launched by groundWork– with the assistance of the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) – of the proposed KiPower coal-fired power station, to be based near Delmas, Mpumalanga.
groundWork launched court proceedings in August 2017 against KiPower’s environmental authorisation and the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ decision to allow the power station to go ahead without a climate change impact assessment.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs could have averted the court proceedings if she had responded to letters from the CER sent before the litigation was launched.
KiPower and Kuyasa’s attorneys have now indicated that they plan to apply afresh for a new environmental authorisation for the power station, and that they will not be opposing the application to have KiPower’s existing environmental authorisation set aside.
It is not yet known whether the Department of Environmental Affairs intends to oppose the litigation.
KiPower’s existing environmental authorisation remains in place until set aside.
It is also not clear whether KiPower’s new environmental impact assessment (EIA) application will include a climate change impact assessment and will address the numerous deficiencies and water pollution concerns that arose from the original EIA.
The Hawerklip community and other communities in the Highveld – with whom groundWork is working – have strong objections to this proposed power station, given the impacts it will have on, amongst other things, the already high air pollution, the water resources on which they depend, climate change, and most importantly, their health and overall wellbeing.
“We are pleased that KiPower will not oppose the court case. The High Court has made clear that such environmental authorisations may not be granted without an assessment of the project’s climate change impacts.
“KiPower’s climate change impacts will, as for the Thabametsi coal-fired power station, be severe – both for the climate and the project itself – and cannot be mitigated.
“The Minister’s failure to respond to our concerns have resulted in court proceedings which we did not want”, said Thomas Mnguni of groundWork.
This is one of two court challenges recently launched by groundWork against proposed new independent coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga, for failure to adequately assess these plants’ climate change impacts.
The other challenge relates to the proposed Khanyisa coal-fired power station – a preferred bidder under the first bid window of the Department of Energy’s Coal Baseload Independent Power Producer (IPP) Procurement Programme.
Both legal proceedings flow from the High Court’s decision ordering the Minister of Environmental Affairs to reconsider Earthlife Africa’s appeal of Thabametsi’ coal-fired power station’s environmental authorisation, but this time with a climate change impact assessment for the power station.
The court confirmed that a climate change impact assessment needed to form part of Thabametsi’s EIA and should have been considered before a decision was made on whether the power station could go ahead.
As Nicole Loser, attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights, points out “The Minister of Energy has put all Independent Power Producer programmes on hold, pending the Integrated Resource Plan and a proper review of the capacity South Africa needs. In these circumstances, it would be premature for KiPower to go ahead with a new EIA process”.
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