Colenso power station gets go-ahead

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(Picture: Chris Kirchhoff/MCSA)
(Picture: Chris Kirchhoff/MCSA)

Pietermaritzburg - Colenso Power has been given the go-ahead for the development of 1050 MW coal-fired power station near Colenso, in KwaZulu-Natal.

groundWork, an environmental activist group in Pietermaritzburg, has said however, that authorisation for the power station could cause severe air pollution as well as contaminate ground water.

The proposal by Colenso Power was accepted by the Environmental Affairs Department and those who want to appeal the decision must do so by March 1.

According to the document sent by Colenso Power to groundWork, the area in which the building of the power station and “other associated infrastructure” will take place is on a number of portions of farms within the Umtshezi Local Municipality.

In the document, the Environmental Affairs Department said they had granted Colenso Power permission as they were “satisfied” that it was within the conditions on environmental authorisation.

groundWork director Bobby Peek said yesterday that the proposed power station would be built in an area “previously devastated by the impacts of mining”.

“Essentially the environmental impact report for this project was woefully inadequate in that it, in many instances, lacked data to make any accurate assessments whatsoever, or the data on which they relied was outdated or incorrect,” said Peek.

“The assessment fails to adequately assess the impacts of the project.

“In most instances, the conclusions arrived at in the assessments are purely speculative, with no accurate data to support the findings.”

He said it “completely disregarded” crippling drought in the province and the amount of water the project will need each day is estimated at 84 000 litres.

Peek said the project would have severe impacts on the surrounding wetland and the Thukela River.

“The assessment fails to properly address the potential use for the ash generated from the operation of the plant, for brick manufacture.

“The report says the ash will be used for making bricks but they have not assessed whether this will in fact be viable.

“The storage of ash can have significant air and groundwater pollution impacts.”

The Centre for Environmental Rights released a Colenso fact sheet late last year, supporting groundWork’s objections to the project. They said the report was incomplete and contained errors and material gaps of information.

The Environmental Affairs Department has said that the project “must commence within a period of three years from the date of issue”.

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