Agenda questioned: Creecy gives repeated opportunities to Karpowership SA to rectify EIA applications

  • The Green Connection continues to voice its disappointment over the South African government’s ongoing support for Karpowerships, as well as its concerns over the environmental impact assessment (EIA) processes being undertaken.
  • This comes as media reports that the Minister in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment (DFFE) is “demanding” proof of expertise regarding Karpowerships’ gas explosion risk report in the Karpowership Coega (Ngqura) EIA appeal process.

The Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid says, “We appreciate that in EIA appeal processes the Minister has the power to call for additional information. However, as an interested and affected party participating in the EIA process, it is disheartening to witness the repeated opportunities given to Karpowerships to rectify flaws in their EIA applications.

After Karpowerships were initially refused environmental authorisations in 2021, the Minister on appeal decided to remit the EIAs back to the Department so that Karpowerships could address gaps in information and procedural defects in the public participation process. In March 2023, the Department again refused Karpowership authorisation in respect of the Port of Ngqura. Karpowership has appealed this refusal decision.”

She says, “In an interim appeal decision made in August 2023, the Minister recorded that she was unable to make an informed decision on the appeal due to (among other things) various gaps in information and ambiguity relating to the status of the Major Hazard Installation Assessment Report. Instead of dismissing the appeal, the Minister has again elected to give Karpowerships a further opportunity to remedy the information gaps and flaws. It is confusing to us why Karpowerships are repeatedly afforded further opportunities to remedy flaws in their EIA applications.”

The Green Connection believes that a thorough, impartial and procedurally fair assessment of Karpowerships’ applications is essential, and that transparency and the public interest should be prioritised. The fairness of EIA processes is brought into question when decision-makers repeatedly bend over backwards to enable an applicant to rectify significant information gaps and other flaws. It leaves an impression that environmental authorisations will inevitably be granted to projects supported by the government, and that participating in EIA processes is increasingly becoming an exercise in futility.

The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville van Rooy says, “And now, with reports that Karpowerships has cut power to the capital of Sierra Leone – where it supplies 80% of the power – this raises significant questions about whether it is wise for South Africa to rely on Karpowerships for a substantial portion of its energy needs.”

He continues, “Besides the associated costs and South Africa’s questionable ability to afford electricity from Karpowerships, the potential harm to the environment and the ripple effect it could have on the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and their communities, are equally important. Our country’s energy future should be built on sustainable and responsible foundations. South Africa should strive for energy security and environmental sustainability, in ways that prioritise the interests of the people.”

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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