Another setback for Karpowership after minister dismisses appeal
Environment minister cites ‘material and fatal’ defects in Turkish-owned company’s appeal application
Karpowership SA’s aim of alleviating the country’s energy crisis by plugging its gas power ships to Eskom’s electricity grid has been dealt a blow after its appeal to overturn an environmental ruling was dismissed by minister of forestry, fisheries & the environment Barbara Creecy.
The Turkish-owned company, set to supply the bulk of the 2,000MW of power aimed at reducing rolling blackouts, has yet to secure the required environmental approvals or permission to dock its three gas-fired ships at SA’s ports.
Creecy this week dismissed Karpowership’s appeal against the department’s 2021 ruling, which refused to grant the company environmental authorisation (EA) for its ships, citing “material and fatal” defects in its appeal application.
“Karpowership failed to (1) complete the necessary research (desk or field) to conduct a reasonable environmental assessment of noise impacts in the marine environment, and (2) failed to propose long-term marine noise mitigation,” Creecy said.
“Given that there are significant gaps identified in the sound assessment, which may impact sensitive areas, and mortality rates of various fish crustaceans, specific to each region, the EA should be refused as the assessment is not sufficient for decision-making,” she said.
Without the environmental approvals, Karpowership’s aims of reaching financial close by September this year and providing power to SA by 2023 will not be possible.
This, with a legal challenge from a rival bidder, has stalled the projects, which were initially scheduled to be plugged into the grid by July after Karpowershi was awarded the tender in March 2021.
However, the minister referred the matter back to the relevant authority within her department, which may come to a different conclusion, thereby handing Karpowership a lifeline.
“I deem that an appropriate order ... is to remit the matter back to the CA (competent authority) so that the various gaps in information and procedural defects in relation to the public participation process that led to the rejection of the EA application may be addressed,” she said.
In response, Karpowership said it was “disappointed” in the decision given the length of time it took to come to this point.
“While we disagree with the findings on Friday’s report, we agree with the independent arbiter that there are no fatal flaws in the Karpowership SA EIA [environmental impact assessment],” Karpowership said in a statement.
It said it appreciates the department’s “remission of our EIA to the competent authority, which allows us the opportunity to address perceived gaps and we hope that the process will be much timelier than it has been to date”.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.