Lamu coal plant project licence revoked by tribunal

In Summary

• “There was a casual approach by NEMA in such a serious project, they therefore failed to carry its mandate as required by law,” the tribunal ruled.

Save Lamu secretary General Walid Ahmed leads other activists and residents in anti-coal demos in Lamu town.
Save Lamu secretary General Walid Ahmed leads other activists and residents in anti-coal demos in Lamu town.
Image: FILE

The National Environment Tribunal on Wednesday revoked a licence issued by Nema for the Sh200 billion Lamu coal power plant. 

Nema issued the impugned environmental and social impact assessment licence to Amu Power Company Ltd. The firm was expected to build the proposed 1050 MW coal plant in Kwasasi, Lamu.

The tribunal ruled that National Environmental Management Authority failed to consider its own regulations when issuing the license to AMU. It said it was unreasonable and the environmental agency ignored the set procedure.

Nema failed to inspect the engineering systems, adding that climate change was not considered while the study was being conducted.

“There was a casual approach by Nema in such a serious project, they, therefore, failed to carry out their mandate as required by law,” the tribunal ruled.

The tribunal said the only option was to stop the project and validate the environmental impact assessment report.

NET also ruled that there was no proper public participation before Nema gave AMU Power the go ahead. There were 31 meetings in the area until June 31, 2015, on the coal plant project.

“We accept that public participation was conducted but before the environment assessment study. The idea was not to share possible effects of the project. The firm was unwilling to give more details of project,” NET said.

However, they ruled that the participants were given very little time to participate.

Further, the tribunal said there is no evidence to show that adverts were placed in any newspaper and no notices were placed.

“The people who are affected by the project must have a say even the most feeble voice they may have, the public participation in second stage was not existent.” the held.

The procedure was not followed, Nema never supervised AMU to ensure that every regulation was followed.

“Would the members have supported the projects if they know about effects on human health, damage of flora and fauna, immature deaths and even caused adverse effects on forests? There might be ways to mitigate the same, however, the residents ought to have been notified of these before a license was issued,” the tribunal ruled.

 “On radio announcements, they were done once a week. No evidence to show that Radio Salam has a countrywide coverage. They ought to get comments beyond the project area as it ought to have had effects on other regions,” they ruled.

It was the view of the tribunal that the minutes of the minutes were post-dated in order to show that the meeting were held earlier than the date indicated.

“This confused approach made the process unfair and it was hurried to meet the respondents set goal or just to lock out the public,” they ruled.

They were also accused of not submitting the proper location details and designs of the project. This lack of specific of information gave the tribunal and as well as the public a hard time to determine its effects of the fragile sea shore.

In the case, Save Lamu had challenged the Lamu Coal Project arguing that Nema illegally approved a project that will have a negative impact on the County’s air quality with adverse impacts on human health and biodiversity.

(Edited by P. Wanambisi)