THE foundation for the establishment of a Project Steering Committee for the proposed nuclear plant at Thyspunt was laid on Friday, 9 December 2016, when Kouga Municipality and Eskom met with government stakeholders at Jeffreys Bay.
The meeting followed on a number of engagements between Eskom and Kouga’s new leadership after the municipal elections in August this year.
Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said the municipality and Eskom had agreed to meet regularly in preparation for the release of the Environmental Authorisation (EA) for the nuclear-build at Thyspunt.
Thyspunt is the preferred site in the Final Environmental Report for Nuclear 1, submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs in February 2016.
“The EA was initially expected to be released before the end of 2016, but this has since been postponed to February 2017,” she said.
“Friday’s meeting was a big step forward in cementing Kouga’s position in all processes regarding Thyspunt and ensuring that interest groups would also be included and kept updated.”
Eskom’s Nuclear New Build Programme Director, Loyiso Tyabashe, said, “Eskom is always cognisant of the importance of complying with all regulatory requirements, following the right process and engaging key stakeholders in preparation for the project. The people of Kouga remain the primary stakeholders in this project and we are pleased to see them taking their rightful place.”
Roleplayers at the meeting included the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa). Other invitees were the Department of Energy and the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The Mayor said the aim of the meeting was to discuss Terms of Reference for the proposed project steering committee and its task teams, as well as to clarify the roles of the various government stakeholders.
“For example, it has been made clear to us that Eskom will not be handing Kouga a big bag of money to mitigate the potential negative impact of the proposed development on our communities, state infrastructure and facilities. This would be the responsibility of other sectors of government, hence the importance of getting them on board,” she said.
She said that she was pleased with the commitment shown by Eskom and the other invitees towards stakeholder engagement.
Tyabashe added, “The setting up of the Project Steering Committee has moved smoothly and we are now looking into formalising workgroups to ensure that all preparatory work is handled by people with the relevant expertise from the various roleplayers and at the right level of seniority.”
The Mayor said that should the nuclear-build at Thyspunt receive the go-ahead, it would be the biggest development Kouga has seen and would have a massive impact on the area.
“Various interest groups have been established, some for and others against the project. It is critical that we include them in the proposed structures and communicate regularly with them, so that they know what is happening,” she concluded.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place in February in order to finalise arrangements for the establishment of the Project Steering Committee and task teams should a favourable EA be issued.