NET orders proponents to cease construction and undertake a new environmental and social impact assessment. Ruling invalidates the project’s current ESIA licence.
Nairobi 26th June – Lamu residents were today overwhelmed with joy after the National Environment Tribunal (NET) cancelled the license issued by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to Amu Power for the construction of the Lamu Coal Power Plant.
NET ordered Amu Power to undertake a new Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the project. In the interim, no construction is permitted to begin on Lamu coal plant. A valid ESIA licence is required for the project to proceed and for contracts to go in effect.
Among the ESIA’s significant insufficiencies, the tribunal members faulted Amu Power for their failure to conduct effective public participation. Reading the judgment, Chairman Mohamed Balala noted that the tribunal could not excuse non-compliance: “Public participation is the oxygen that gives life to an ESIA report.”
“Public participation is the oxygen that gives life to an ESIA report” Said Chairman Balala.
Save Lamu Vice Chair, Mohammed Mbwana couldn’t hold back tears. After appearing before the NET as a witness and advocating against the coal plant this was the best news in a very long time.
“Today we can’t express how much happiness this judgment brings us. We thank the members of the tribunal for listening to our plea and revoking the license granted by NEMA. We’re now old but we inherited a clean and healthy environment from our fathers and it’s our duty to give our children a clean and healthy environment as well.”, said Mr. Mbwana.
After three years since Appealing the NEMA’s license to Amu Power the community has been waiting with baited breath for justice. Justice not only to live in a healthy environment but also to be heard as Kenyans and have a say in the kind of development they want.
Another resident of Lamu, Mohammed Athman captured this better in his response to the judgment.
“Now I believe an average Kenyan can go to court and get justice. In the past people suffered in silence. I am really happy with the judgment.”, he said.
The judgment has restored hope among Kenyans that indeed, the law is the great equalizer – handing justice to the poor and rich alike. No doubt this judgement will set precedence in the country, region and globally.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m excited. I’m beyond overjoyed. This is great but, bado mapambano!” said deCOALonize board member, Samia Bwana.
Indeed other ongoing projects in the country that are flouting the Constitutional rights of the people, including public participation and a right to clean and healthy environment are now on notice and contractors and investors must now go back to the drawing board before the law catches up with them.
This judgment has affirmed Kenya’s position as a global leader in renewable energy and has firmly put the country on its path to transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2020, as President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged. Currently, Renewable Energy makes up 70% of the country’s installed electric power capacity.
“Today’s ruling is a major one for the environment, the people of Lamu and Kenya. It has stamped the authority of tribunals in courts to ensure compliance with the rule of law.”, Ochiel Duddley, Lawyer Katiba Institute.
Mark Odaga, Lawyer with Natural Justice also recounted the legal journey, expressing his gratitude to the tribunal.
“What this means is you can’t ignore the concerns of a community when considering a development project. Indeed this case from the start wasn’t about anti-development. It was about giving communities a chance to participate meaningfully in developments concerning them..”, he said.
For more information, please contact:
Abiud Onyach, deCOALonize Campaign Communication Officer on +254727670279 or by email at [email protected]