While the High Court in Pretoria declared the environmental approval for the planned 600MW Khanyisa coal-fired power station as expired, Eskom’s load shedding schedule is showing no signs of ending during this winter.
The ruling came as a result of a legal challenge to the project’s environmental authorisation by environmental justice group groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).
“It sought to set aside the environmental approval for the plant on the basis that developer ACWA Power failed adequately to assess the project’s climate change impacts and that the then environment minister – the late Edna Molewa – failed to consider climate change impacts before approving the project,” said advocate for the CER, Michelle Koyama.
This comes after the 2017 landmark Thabametsi court judgment which set a precedent which confirmed that climate change impacts must be part of the legally required environmental impact assessment process.
“During the course of the litigation, it came to light that Khanyisa had not complied with the conditions of its environmental authorisation and that its authorisation had lapsed in October 2018,” said Koyama.
The department of forestry, fisheries and environment agreed that Khanyisa’s environmental authorisation was invalid.
“ACWA, however, persisted with its position that its authorisation was still valid, but did not file answering papers in the litigation to address this,” she said.