With so many unanswered questions and unfulfilled requirements, The Green Connection is satisfied with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE)’s decision to refuse Karpowership SA’s request for condonation and extension with regard to its application for Environmental Authorisation for the project in Saldanha Bay.
The news about the DFFE’s decision in Saldanha came through on Tuesday 30 May, just as The Green Connection and others civil society organisations were making further enquiries, with a view to challenging any DFFE decision to give Karpowership yet another opportunity to amend their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for Richards Bay.
Karpowership withdrew their EIA report on 26 April 2023 and on the same date applied for condonation in an attempt to cure shortcomings. DFFE has confirmed, in a letter to The Green Connection, that the EIA application is now deemed withdrawn and the application is closed from the Department’s side. Subsequently, it has come to light that DFFE has refused Karpowerships’ condonation application.
The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville van Rooy says, “As an eco-justice organisation that works with the small-scale fishers who will be most affected by the presence of Karpowerships in the bay, The Green Connection is pleased that Karpower has received yet another refusal in Saldanha.
However, while it is good news that the Department has refused to give Karpowership yet another bite at the cherry, Karpowership has submitted an appeal against the condonation refusal decision. We are studying the appeal and consulting with our legal team, with a view to submitting an appeal responding statement in due course.”
“The Green Connection and the communities we serve come from all walks of life, and we are all fully aware that South Africa urgently needs a solution to the electricity crisis. However, we also believe it critical to ensure that, for any proposed solutions, all the legal requirements must be met. This is to protect the people in the long run. And while Karpowerships have been touted as a top solution to the country’s electricity crisis, this company – in the past three or so years – has been unable to meet the legal requirements.
This is why South Africans must be vigilant. Although all are desperate for some electricity now, we cannot, in our desperation sit back and allow our government to sign the country into any deals that could make electricity unaffordable and therefore unavailable for most, in the future,” says van Rooy.
He adds that Karpowerships cannot alleviate the situation for this winter because it takes between six (6) to twelve (12) months to build shore-to-ship infrastructure, and that is only after they have got all their approvals. And on top of that, these vessels could harm the ocean and thereby affect small-scale fisher and other coastal livelihoods. In a country crippled with unemployment, this does not seem to be a sensible move.