- This week judges at the National Environmental Tribunal in Nairobi cancelled the license issued by the National Environmental Management Authority for the 1050MW Lamu coal to energy project .
- The country’s first ever coal-powered plant was set to be constructed near the coastal town of Lamu, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
- The National Environmental Tribunal ruled that authorities had failed to do a thorough environmental assessment, ordering the developer, Amu Power ,to undertake a new environmental impact assessment.
- The Chinese-backed power station would increase the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 700%, activists say.
The environmental court also faulted the Chinese-backed power plant for failing to adequately consult the public about the initiative, and cited insufficient and unclear plans for handling and storing toxic coal ash.
The ruling was a win for environmental activists and local communities, who for three years argued the coal plant would not only pollute the air but also damage the fragile marine ecosystem and devastate the livelihoods of fishing communities. They warn that construction of the 1,050 MW coal-fired plant near Lamu – a 14th Century idyllic tourist spot – would put its protected status at risk and ruin livelihoods of the locals.
“It really is a great day for the people of Lamu,” said Mark Odaga, a lawyer with nonprofit group Natural Justice. “Theirs was a cry for their voices to be heard, for their concerns to be reflected so that this wasn’t a situation of people being anti-development.”
While the latest verdict delays the coal plant’s development, it doesn’t put an end to it. Amu Power can still apply for a new license or appeal the decision within the next month. For now, though, local communities are celebrating the win.
“We’re now old, but we inherited a clean and healthy environment from our fathers, and it’s our duty to give our children a clean and healthy environment as well,” said the vice chair of NGO Save Lamu, Mohammed Mbwana.
Author: GBA News Desk