Africa: Richards Bay Project Faces First Gas-to-Power Court Challenge in South Africa


What has been shocking for the organisations involved in challenging the Richards Bay Combined Cycle Power Plant project is that locals say they have no knowledge of it. The lack of generalised and robust public consultation has resulted in communities being marginalised and excluded from the public participation process. It's also against the law.

Claire Martens is the senior communications officer at Natural Justice. The organisation is supporting the court challenge.

The Richards Bay of my childhood memories is towering coal chutes, giant brick warehouses and a smoky pall over the town. Hockey injuries on the school fields resulted in blackened wounds that took weeks to heal.

By then, the industry had already taken its toll on the seaside town on the northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal. Two decades later and the town's industrialisation continues to grow with a new project being considered by Eskom -- a 3,000MW combined cycle power plant.

In South Africa, rolling blackouts have meant that the development of energy capacity is foremost in the government's mind. But, despite years of advocacy for a "just transition" and for renewable energy capacity to be quickly and efficiently developed, the government still looks to polluting fuels for electricity production....

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