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DEFF’s Karpowerships decision leads to controversy along SA’s coast

The Port of Saldanha Bay. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

The Port of Saldanha Bay. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 5, 2021


Cape Town - The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) decision to refuse the environmental authorisation applications for the Karpowership SA’s project has sparked controversy among the communities and organisations along the coast, with West Coast Black Business Alliance (WBBA) set to appeal the decision.

The WBBA has called for an end to load shedding and pledged its support of the Karpowership SA’s three projects to provide electricity at Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay.

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WBBA spokesperson Sammy Claassen said the negative narratives around the energy solution that fuelled the department’s decision were provided by one-sided, exclusive and elitist environmental groups that did not consult the coastal communities, wards and organisations in the townships of Saldanha Bay Municipality – hence their decision to appeal.

“Our appeal will take a community centred approach, with community-based input to address the environmental and socio-economic interest of our people. We will be in support of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Programme (RMIPP) and its procurement of Karpowership SA to mitigate load shedding,” said Claassen.

“Our economy is bleeding. Saldanha Bay lost thousands of jobs recently at Arcellor Mittal (Saldanha Steel) due to the electricity crisis. Thus, we support the initiatives and response of the DMRE to procure energy solutions that are able to stabilise the national grid by 2022,” said Claassen.

Karpowership SA spokesperson Kay Sexwale said: “We welcome WBBA’s support, which we believe serves to further underscore the robustness of our public participation process.”

In contrast, Saldanha Bay Coastal Links chairperson Carmelita Mostert said they spoke with their fishers around the coast and their main concern was the effect the Karpowership SA project would have on the marine life that they depend on, thus they were in support of the DEFF’s decision to refuse the environmental authorisations.

“We met with Green Connection and when they asked what they could do for us, we asked for assistance in addressing the Karpowership SA projects, which was how the complaint regarding their flawed Enironmental Impact Assessment regulations for the project at the port of Saldanha Bay was made,” said Mostert.

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Green Connection community outreach coordinator Neville van Rooy said energy experts have critiqued the RMIPP and the Karpowership SA bid because there were more affordable, green-conscious energy alternatives to mitigate SA’s energy crisis.

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Cape Argus

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