An environment court in Kenya has stopped the construction of a $2 billion coal power plant in Lamu Island, a popular tourist site and a United Nations World Heritage site, on grounds that environment licenses were issued without the participation of the public.
About two-thirds of Kenya’s energy comes from renewable sources, but the East African nation planned the region’s first coal plant to generate about 1 050 Megawatts.
BREAKING! A huge boost for environmental rights, for the Lamu community and for our planet. The licence to build the Lamu Coal plant has been revoked! @deCOALonize @savelamu #deCOALonize #AfrikaVuka pic.twitter.com/EhbXms7iBL
— 350 Africa (@350Africa) June 26, 2019
Outside an environment court sitting in Nairobi, environment activists who include residents of Lamu have reason to celebrate. Save Lamu Coalition Co-ordinator, Khadija Shekue, says that they are very happy.
“We are so happy. Everybody is happy. It’s like something has been brought to us from heaven.”
They have been contesting the conduct of an Environment Impact Assessment, which said the project overlooked the importance of the island, home to marine (including five species of endangered turtles) and coral life.
The five-judge bench agreed.
“The failure to hold any meeting from January 2016 to July 2016 and the preparation of a comprehensive study report without the participation of persons most affected, was contemptuous of these people and the residents would have the most to sacrifice should the project proceed and impact found to be more severe,” Judge at the Environment Tribunal in Kenya, Mohammed Balala.
Scuttling plans for East Africa’s first coal power plant, while offering temporary relief to the residents of Lamu.
Save Lamu Coalition’s Mohammed Athman, says they will not allow coal into a unique environment.
“This is a big day for Lamu people, it is a big day for Kenya, for Africa and the world because we must fight the coal generation. We can never, never allow it in our unique environment, which God has blessed us with.”
Shekue, the construction of the coal plant, close to the Indian Ocean, was going to affect resources.
“Especially where they are going to construct the coal is very close to the Indian Ocean. They are going to affect everything because there are very good resources which communities depend on as a source of livelihood.”
The bulk of the project owned by Amu Power a Kenyan, Omani, US and Chinese consortium will be financed by China, which is ironically increasing investments in renewable energy at home.