Cape Town - Fishing communities and organisations concerned with the protection of livelihoods in and around coastal regions, have decried the recent developments in floating power plants on South African sea waters.
Karpowership, a member of Karadeniz Energy Group, based in Istanbul, Turkey, could add its distinctive fully-integrated floating power plants to the country for two decades.
The power plants are mounted on ships or barges and, according to Karpowership, able to generate electricity very quickly.
Saldanha Coastal Links’ Carmelita Mostert said: “I am exceptionally frustrated and saddened that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Especially since we had a face-to-face zoom meeting with the Minister Barbara Creecy, where we raised our concerns. It is obvious that the government does not care about our communities, who literally depend on the oceans for their daily bread.”
Saldanha Coastal Links was established for small-scale fishers to secure their livelihoods and overall human rights.
“The presence of these ships, off our coast, will have a real impact in scaring-off the fish in the area, and we fishers will be the ones going hungry. I read these developments with tears in my eyes, our already scarce fish reserves will be killed by these ships.”
Non-profit organisation Green Connection’s strategic lead, Liziwe McDaid, said three South African ports would be affected: Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape and Coega in the Eastern Cape.
“South Africans, especially those living along the coast, need to question the feasibility of the decision to lock the country into a 20-year commitment as an emergency measure for our energy issues. Citizens must demand that their local politicians, such as their local councillors, who should listen to them, take accountability for the impacts that should be expected if these ships arrive and plant themselves in our ports. The people must make a noise because they have a right to say ‘no’ to Karpowership.”
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Deff) Minister Barbara Creecy has been sent the final environmental impact assessment (EIA) report by TRIPLO4 Sustainable Solutions, which McDaid said they would be appealing.
“We hope the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries will stand up for the environment and protect future generations of South Africans from what seems to be greedy opportunism. That is what we need her to do. The minister of the country’s environment should look to the future.”
McDaid said there seems to be an agenda to “force” the project’s development despite pushback stemming from social, environmental and economic concerns.
Green Connection’s community outreach co-ordinator, Neville van Rooy, said: “We are still studying the report. However, a key issue which is cause for concern is why the government would consider a 20-year deal as a solution to a current emergency situation. These ships will be anchored off our coastline for 20 years, creating noise pollution constantly, which can be heard for more than a kilometre. The presence of these ships in the ocean will also have a fatal impact on bird life in the area with an estimated 155 birds being killed annually as a result.”
Creecy’s spokesperson, Albi Modise said: “The department can confirm that it received final environmental impact assessment reports on Monday, April 26 and the department has 57 days to make a decision on all three applications as the projects are strategic infrastructure projects. Any parties dissatisfied with the decision have the right to appeal.”
South African-owned DNG Power, a contender for the bid, has sought legal action for its rejection in the energy tender, citing alleged corruption within the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. The department awarded the majority of the contracts to Karpowership in March.