Green Connection, Saldanha Fishing Communities Welcome Withdrawal of Power Plant Application For EA
On Monday 1 February, the Environmental Assessment Practitioners (EAP) responsible for the Scoping Report and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notified all interested and affected parties that they are withdrawing Assegai’s application for Environmental Authorisation (EA) for a proposed power project in Saldanha, on the West Coast. This comes as great news for local fishing communities, many of whom, according to the Green Connection’s Neville van Rooy was not even aware that the project was being proposed for their region.
“As we made our own submission into the EIA process, it became clear that many of our community partners were never informed, much less involved in the processes to assess the project’s impact. Many of the fishing communities who would be affected by this first heard about the proposed development – a liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) to power facility, with an overhead electricity transmission line and associated pipeline infrastructure – when we reached out to them in late-January,” says van Rooy, the organisation’s Community Outreach Coordinator.
According to the Green Connection’s Energy and Advocacy Lead Liziwe McDaid, “We find it peculiar that project has been halted, with no reasons provided. We will correspond with the EAP, this week, to get clarity on the reasons behind the decision to withdraw. If that correspondence uncovers anything that could help these communities, it would be good to know the details.”
Carmelita Mostert, a local fisher from Saldanha says, “While fishers are happy with the news that Assegai has withdrawn its application, the current air of mistrust – since the community was not involved in the process from the start – means we are wary of becoming too comfortable. This is why local communities must remain vigilant and prepared, should anyone decide to start this process up again.”
“Our plan was to protest against the unethical process during the early stages, with more than a hundred fishers committing to join in. We do, however, still intend to draft and deliver a letter with our grievances because, as we see it, this is ocean grabbing. We need to tell these oil and gas companies, and government, so that they understand that access to a healthy ocean is integral to our livelihoods and that we are serious about protecting our ocean resources,” adds Mostert.
She says, “Saldanha is a fishing town, not industrial, and it should be developed as such. The poor situation caused by the lockdown, as a result of restricted access to beaches and fishing grounds, is what we need help with. There is no room for projects that place unnecessary risk on our oceans.”