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Kenya: Lamu Coal Investors Appeal Ruling That Revoked Licence

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Investors in Kenya’s controversial coal power plant in Lamu on the Coast have appealed against a ruling that revoked the project’s licence.

In its appeal filed in the Environment and Land Court in Malindi, Amu Power — a consortium of Kenyan and Chinese firms — contends that the National Environment Tribunal (NET) erred in cancelling the environmental social impact assessment (ESIA) licence solely based on purported flaws in the consultation process.

The company also argues that the tribunal erred in holding that it did not conduct a proper analysis of the alternative sites for the project and that the ESIA study did not contain adequate mitigation measures.

“The appellant points out the following grounds as the basis for seeking to overturn the tribunal’s finding that the process leading to the preparation of the ESIA study did not involve proper public participation,” said the memorandum of appeal.

The decision by Amu Power to appeal the revocation of the $2 billion plant opens another battlefront with environmentalists, conservationists and non-governmental organisations opposed to the project on the basis that it will have adverse impacts on the Lamu ecosystem, which is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Opposition to the plant emanates from the fact that coal, which is the number one source of air pollution worldwide, has adverse effects on people’s health, pollutes water resources and contributes to the climate change crisis.

Amu Power, a consortium of Centum, Gulf Energy and Chinese firms, is determined to build the plant having signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Kenya Power and despite the fact that Kenya is currently grappling with excess power capacity, making the cost of electricity to remain high.

In its ruling, NET was categorical that Amu Power had failed to undertake a conclusive ESIA on the 1,050MW plant.

The tribunal also castigated the National Environmental Management Authority for issuing the licence despite the fact that the ESIA was never subjected to proper and effective public participation in accordance with the law.

However, Amu Power wants the High Court to set aside the tribunal’s orders arguing that it undertook extensive public participation forums yet NET opted to place undue emphasis on procedure rather than focus on the substance and spirit.

“The alleged flaws in the consultation process, if at all, were not serious enough to deprive the consultation process efficacy,” said the company in court filings.