Lamu, KENYA: The Energy Regulatory Commission-ERC has objected to the acquisition of a grant for power generation license for a coal fired power plant in Lamu County.
The regulatory body has also subsequently stopped the entire process till further notice.
The Amu Power company,a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment companies was to be set up at Kwasasi area in Lamu West at a cost of Sh.200 Billion.
In a letter dated November 7 which was sent to the Chief Operations Officer of Amu power Company Cyrus Kirima and copied to the Save Lamu Natural Justice and the County government by the ERCs Director general Joseph Ng’ang’a,the commission acknowledged receiving a letter from Save Lamu objecting to the grant of the licence to Amu Power on October 28.
In the letter, the ERC notes that Amu power in its application for the licence,failed to provide all the required material and that the conditions attached to the Environmental Impact Assesment-EIA license from the National Environmental Management Authority- NEMA were not included.
The letter also stated that an objection from one department of the county government of Lamu was withdrawn by a different department on the basis of the EIA license referred above.
Pursuant to regulations 8-10 of the Energy (Electricity Licensing) Regulations, 2012,the commission intends to hold a public hearing to deal with the objections on November 24 at an unspecified venue.
Consequently,consideration of the application for the license has been put on hold until the objections are determined.
This comes just a day after a coalition of 35 Lamu community groups launched complaints at the National Environmental Tribunal-NET to challenge the decision by NEMA to grant the Lamu Coal Power plant a project license.
Save Lamu said that most residents do not understand what the project is all about including its merits and demerits.
According to the National Liason officer of Save Lamu Omar Almawy,residents have not been provided enough time to go through the EIA report that was released three months ago and give their opinion.
In a press statement the group claims that the law was broken since a public hearing was deliberately set up before comments were sub mitted.
“There is a lack of a resettlement action plan to date and the failure by the EIA report to properly analyze the impact of marine life, poor analysis of other alternatives of energy and the introduction of new project components in the EIA such as the 15 km conveyor belt and a 2000 acre limestone concession is worrying,” said Almawy.
Lamu leaders had previously requested for more time to go through the EIA report on the proposed Sh. 200 billion Lamu Coal power project.
They argued that the three month period was not enough and appropriate for residents to be taken through the 1800 page report and make an informed decision and requested for 90 more days.
Players in the Tourism and Fisheries department said that the project would wipe out the entire ocean and land ecosystem rendering many people jobless.
They also said the health implication of the project will also have far reaching irreversible damages.
“Why is the government keen to implement something that every other country in the world is against,” one of those present at the press conference asked.
The establishment of the coal fired power plant had previously been given a lifeline after the National Land Commission (NLC) granted Amu power, the company behind the project land rights.
The plant is to be set up on a 985 acres of land and is expected to generate 981.5 megawatts of electricity once complete
The EIA report also led to the resignation of a top county official who voiced her opposition to the controversial project.
Immediate former Trade, Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources Executive Samia Omar resigned after she observed that the coal plant might be harmful to the environment.
“Having read the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Lamu Coal Power Plant, I am convinced that the project will have irreversible and profound impact on Lamu,” she said while announcing her resignation.