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Refusal of the Dodgy

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment’s has refused all three applications for Environmental Authorisation for the gas-to-power powership projects for Turkish company Karpowership

We include the department’s Records of Refusal below. In précis:- Karpowership’s Environmental Assessor, Triplo4, were unprofessional in both their abuse of the public review process and disrespect of the impact assessment processes.

We offer a bullet point version for the 3 ports below and are pleased to see the environmental department has taken the significant sound pollution of the projects into consideration. What is worryingly absent from the department’s decision is review of the carbon footprint of the project, in any form, but especially in terms of the 34% GHG emission reduction needed immediately and meeting the 42% business-as-usual (BAU) reduction by 2025 target.

Much of what was written for Saldanha applies to the other ports too:

SALDANHA
• The Draft EIA report (EIAr) was removed from the Triplo4’s website before the public review period was over.
• New information and changes to the EIAr were not included for public review before submission.
• Uncertainty over applicability of listed activities to environmental authorisation.
• Landowners overlooked in the Public Participation Processes (PPP).
• The EIAr contains no noise modelling study.
• Underestimation of the powership’s environmental impact to “trigger regional and global scale impacts”
• Time limitations to specialist studies that undermine their validity or adequacy of assessment.
• Socio-economic assessments (underwater noise impacts to small-scale fishers especially not properly evaluated)

RICHARDS BAY
• PPPs failed to involve small-scale fishers, tribal authorities and communities and informal land-users around the port.
• Only impact of noise to humans assessed. Disturbance to wildlife in the mangroves and swamps not assessed or mitigated. The area is important for the endangered Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin which wasn’t considered. The same for sharks, fish, turtles, dolphin and prawn migration out the estuary.
• An independent peer review on the Avifauna Impact Assessment questioned :-
-the bird count on the mud flats;
-underemphasis of the significance of the sand spits for waders and migrant birds;
-lack of consideration of hot waste water on the food resources for local birds;
-lack of consideration of the interconnectivity of locations and lack of assessment of domino effects to these areas.
This independent review contradicted the original findings and no new assessment was done thereafter.

NGQURA
• Failure to assess adverse effects of underwater noise on penguin’s foraging and reproductive success

It is doubtful that Karpower will reach the stipulated financial close date of end July without environmental authorization. They have 20 days to submit an appeal. South Africans may have just dodged a costly 20-year bullet.

 

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DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT FINALISES DECISION ON KARPOWERSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS APPLICATIONS

MEDIA STATEMENT
DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT FINALISES DECISION ON KARPOWERSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS APPLICATIONS
24 JUNE 2021
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has reached a decision on the three applications which were submitted in October 2020 by Karpowership SA (Pty) Ltd for an environmental authorisation for the development of gas to power via powerships.

The Competent Authority in the Department has decided, after due consideration of all relevant information presented as part of the environmental impact assessment process for all three applications in question, to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations.

The applicant had proposed to locate the three powership projects at the Ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha to generate electricity from natural gas to be evacuated through transmission lines to substations linking to the national grid. The powerships were to be assembled off-site and be delivered fully equipped and functional to the different Ports.

The abovementioned applications came as a response to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s requests for emergency power supply interventions linked to the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Procurement Program.

The Competent Authority in the Department adjudicated these applications in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and specific sections of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

The final reports were submitted to the Department for decision-making on 26 April 2021.

The Competent Authority had until 25 June 2021 to reach a decision, as the three projects were classified as Strategic Integrated Projects, which meant the fifty-seven (57) day timeframe, as gazetted in the National Infrastructure Act, applied.

Copies of the Records of Refusal are available directly from Triplo4 or the Competent Authority at EIAadmin@environment.gov.za

Should any person wish to lodge an appeal against the decision, he/she must submit the appeal to the appeal administrator.

For media inquiries contact Albi Modise on 083 490 2871

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Department received written notice on 31 May 2021 from “The Green Connection”, alleging suspected non-compliance with Regulation 13 of the EIA Regulations, in relation to the Saldanha application, by the appointed Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP). In this regard, the Competent Authority exercised its discretionary power and suspended the said application with a view to look at the veracity of the allegations. Whilst investigating the allegations, the Competent Authority realized that it has sufficient information as part of the final Environmental Assessment Report to make an informed decision on the application, which led to a decision by the Competent Authority to lift the suspension.

There were similar allegations, requesting for the suspension of the other two applications that were received by the Competent Authority, from the Centre for Environmental Rights. The Competent Authority has decided that whilst there is merit to investigate these allegations, it has adequate information at its disposal to make an informed decision and therefore decided against suspending these applications.

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