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The final Scoping report for a proposed 600MW coal-fired power plant to be developed by Anglo American and Vedanta Zinc, just outside Lephalale, has been rejected by the Department Environmental Affairs, reports Earthlife Africa.
The Non-profit environmental justice organisation has been fighting desperately to put brakes on the project which they say will contribute towards greenhouse gases and climate change in South Africa.
Earthlife Africa and their civil society partners staged several protests outside the Anglo American headquarters in Johannesburg opposing the proposed development last year.
According to Makoma Lekalakala, senior programme officer for Earthlife Africa, the NGO applauds the Department of Environmental Affairs for living up to its mandate. “The Department has put its foot down at the further senseless carving up of the Waterberg by the unholy alliance of Anglo American and Vedanta Zinc,” she said this week.
As to the reasons for their objections to the power plant, Lekalakala says: “The town of Lephalale – which is situated the heart of the planned coal complex – was recently struck by devastating floods. Severe weather conditions like these are rare but have increased in the past years.
They are likely to further increase in the future given the mass increase in local greenhouse gas emissions from the soon to be online Medupi power station. Additionally, communities in the area are experiencing increases in childhood respiratory disease for which there is little care available.
The Anglo American and Vedanta coal complex plans to mine and burn such low quality coal that the challenges of local communities will be far worse in the future. Once the cheap coal has been exploited, the South African public will be left to foot the bill of the people’s poor health and a devastated environment.”
It has since been reported that both Anglo American and Vedanta are reapplying for environmental authorisation. The submission date for comments on the amended scoping report is 2 May, this according to Earthlife leaves communities and other parties little time to prepare meaningful contributions.
In response, Earthlife protested this week at Anglo American’s AGM in Johannesburg. The NGO will also be commenting on the amended Final Scoping Report and has written to the consultants, Digby Wells, to ask for more time so that the concerns of communities can be adequately incorporated.