Fisherwomen And Civil Society Vindicated, As Minister Upholds Environmental Ruling On Karpowerships

The Green Connection says the Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Creecy made the right decision to decline Karpowerships’ appeal application against its failure to get environmental authorisations to operate in Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay. The eco-justice organisation says that at least, in the midst of another rather depressing Women’s Month, the fisherwomen – who were legitimately concerned about the negative impacts these ships would have on the ocean – have been vindicated in their fight to protect their livelihoods.

Earlier this month, The Green Connection received correspondence from DFFE confirming that Karpowerships had failed in its appeal to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE). The Turkish company, which planned to supply additional power to South Africa via these floating kettles, was unable to overturn an earlier environmental ruling against its plans.

According to The Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid, the Minister’s decision comes to an overwhelming conclusion that “these gaps in information and the procedural defects are material and fatal and cannot be cured during the current appeal process”.

“In our view the Minister’s decision to uphold her department’s rejection of the Karpowership project is totally correct. However, her decision to then refer the matter back to the competent authority seems lame and sounds like a cop-out. Reading the detailed and damning appeal decision, we feel that it would be more appropriate for Karpowership to be directed to start at the very beginning, and it begs the question why the Minister has not said so?” says McDaid.

The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville van Rooy says, “The Minister’s decision vindicates the small-scale fishers who were not properly consulted. We also expressed the importance of the need to do an underwater noise study to assess the impact of the Karpowership project on the fish on which small-scale fisher livelihoods depend.

“Another important point made in the appeal decision is that no so-called development project decisions, made by any arm of government, can trample over environmental rights. The flaws of this Environmental Impact Assessment are many and laid out for all to read,” adds van Rooy.

Fisherwoman with Coastal Links Saldanha Bay Carmelita Mostert says, “We are happy with the decision. Finally, some good news for women on the coast. It gives us hope and relieves a lot of stress that our oceans and marine life will be protected and that we can continue to provide for our children and our communities from the harvest of the sea.”

Fisherwoman, Solene Smith, also from Coastal Links in Langebaan, agreed with the Minister’s decision. She says, “We have said from the beginning that the Karpowership project will have a disastrous impact on our oceans and the dangers it poses could quite literally mean the end of our communities. We urge the government to look for greener, sustainable power solutions instead.”

Natalie-Jane van Wyk, a youth representative of Coastal Links Saldanha says, “The decision is a huge victory. We consider this development a huge win for us because the protection of the environment is fundamental to the existence of our communities. We will continue to stand together to fight against oil and gas companies who threaten our environment. We urge the government to embark on projects that protect and restore key eco-systems in our area.”

Vuyiseka Mani from the Eastern Cape Environmental Network (ECEN) says, “We are very happy with the decision, especially since we were not informed or invited to the public participation meeting regarding the Karpowership project. We will continue to fight for our voices to be heard. We won’t stop picketing, and we won’t stop petitioning and demonstrating. We will keep fighting for our rights, until the government takes our concerns about the environment seriously, instead of forcing projects on us which could damage the oceans and our communities.”

Click the link below to sign The Green Connection’s petition to stop offshore oil and gas, as part of its Who Stole Our Oceans campaign.



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