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Karpowership environmental impact assessments thrown out

The department of forestry, fisheries and the environment has refused to grant environmental authorisation to Karpowership SA for its three gas-to-power projects.

In March, Karpowership was selected as a preferred bidder under the department of mineral resources and energy’s emergency procurement programme to provide 1 220MW of electricity through its three floating power stations at the ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha Bay.

“The competent authority in the department has decided, after due consideration of all relevant information presented as part of the environmental impact assessment [EIA] process for all three applications in question, to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations,” the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The competent authority had adjudicated on the three applications in terms of the National Environmental Management Act and specific sections of the EIA regulations. The final reports were submitted to the department for decision-making on 26 April.

The competent authority, according to the statement, had until 25 June to reach a decision, as the three projects were classified as strategic integrated projects, which meant the 57-day timeframe, as gazetted in the National Infrastructure Act, applied.

In a statement, Karpowership SA said the department had “allowed a misinformation campaign, funded by special interests” to derail the department’s strategic plan to end load-shedding and address South Africa’s economic and energy crisis.

“Karpowership SA, with its three projects, will provide 800 000 South African homes with cleaner, reliable, and affordable power, and South Africans should understand that the decision on behalf of the [department] threatens the delivery of this power and will extend load-shedding for years to come.”

The company said it had conducted a “robust public participation process”, met all of South Africa’s stringent environmental requirements, and “is confident that it will win the appeal against this decision”.

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

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Sheree Bega
Sheree Bega is an environment reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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