groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste.
SASOL’S OFFSET PLAN CONDONES NON-COMPLIANCE
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 29 January 2016 – groundWork has submitted its comments to SRK Consulting who is, on behalf of its client Sasol, coordinating the plans for the company’s offset program. The Air Quality Act (AQA) of 2004 provided for ambient and emission standards. These standards were thoroughly debated over the next five years and minimum emission standards were promulgated in 2010 for implementation in 2015. In all those ten years, Sasol and Eskom did nothing to prepare for implementation of the standards. Instead they declared, in 2013, that they would not meet the standards. Offsets were then produced, like a rabbit from a conjuror’s hat, to condone non-compliance.
JUSTICE ORGANISATIONS MEET TO PLAN FOR 2016
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 27 Wednesday 2016 – groundWork convened its annual Community Planning Meeting between the 19th to the 21st of January 2016 in Pietermaritzburg. The following non-governmental and community based organisations were involved: Centre for Environmental Rights, Highveld Environmental Justice Network, iMfolozi Community and Wilderness Alliance, South African Waste Pickers’ Association, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance.
GROUNDWORK APPEALS NPC HAZARDOUS WASTE INCINERATOR
Port Shepstone, South Africa, 27 January 2016 – Environmental justice watchdog groundWork  is appealing Natal Portland Cement’s environmental authorisation to burn ‘alternative fuels and resources’ at the company’s Simuma Works . This authorisation, granted by the MEC of the KwaZulu Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), as it exists is essentially a licence to operate a hazardous waste incinerator that can burn any industrial hazardous waste at the discretion of the licence holder. It effectively puts the fox in charge of the henhouse.
RHINO OIL & GAS: NOTICE OF ADDITIONAL PUBLIC MEETINGS
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 20 January 2016 – Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Rhino Oil and Gas) has lodged an application for an exploration right to the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA). In addition Rhino Oil and Gas has made an application to PASA for environmental authorisation of exploration activities.
The proposed exploration area includes nearly 10 000 farms over an area of about 1 500 000 ha. In broad terms the exploration area extends from Richmond in the south to Ladysmith and Dundee in the north-west, passing just eastwards of Mooi River and Estcourt. In the north the area extends east almost to Ulundi and includes the regions around Tugela Ferry and Nkandla. The extent of the area narrows toward the south, including Kranskop, New Hanover and Ashburton but being bounded just west of Camperdown. Protected areas and residential properties within the block are excluded from the rights application.
In this application Rhino Oil and Gas has only applied for approval to undertake early-phase exploration for oil and gas which might be located within suitable geological strata.
The following repeat public scoping meetings have been arranged in larger venues. All stakeholders are invited to attend:
Tuesday 2 February 2016, Howick West Community Hall, 2:30pm;
Wednesday 3 February 2016, Mooi River Town Hall, 10 Claughton Terrace, 2:30pm;
Thursday 4 February 2016, Greytown Community Hall, 61 Cathcart Street, 2:30pm.
ESKOM’S TARIFF CLAW BACK TO CRIPPLE RATEPAYERS
Durban, South Africa, 20 January 2016 – Eskom is asking for a tariff increase of about 8.6% in its Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA)  application to National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (NERSA). If granted, this will bring the total 2016 tariff hike to 16.6%, sinking the poorest deeper into poverty and darkness.
Eskom’s requests for grossly inflated tariff hikes come round every year or, as in 2015, more than once a year. The energy utility has established a pattern of late and/or repeated application stretching back to 2008. This has the appearance of a tactic to forestall public consultation and put the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (NERSA) decision-making under pressure.
BUILDING SOLIDARITY WITH GERMANY IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST COAL
Bielefeld, Germany, 20 January 2016 – Lucky Maisanye, resident in the Witbank community, the heart of the Highveld’s coal industry, and member of the Highveld Environmental Justice Network has been on a one year exchange to Germany, through KOSA. This is his six month report of his activities and experiences of solidarity in the struggle against coal between Germany and Mpumalanga: “It is a great opportunity being here in Germany. I have learned a lot about myself and work. Every day I learn something new and gain a lot of experience. I hope all the things I learn will be fruitful for our struggle against coal mining back home.”
SAVING LAMU: KENYA’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ FIGHT FOR LAND AND LIVELIHOOD
Lamu, Kenya, 6 January 2016 – Off the coast of Kenya is a group of fifty five islands, the Lamu Archipelago, known for its semi-pristine biodiversity and rich cultural heritage. One of these islands, Lamu, is home to the oldest and best-preserved Kiswahili settlement in East Africa and in 2001, Old Lamu Town was declared a cultural World Heritage site.
The livelihoods of those indigenous peoples living in the broader Lamu County – consisting of the north-eastern coastal mainland and the Lamu Archipelago – are predominantly small-scale agriculture and fishing, and employment in the tourism industry which is an important part of the economy.
The privately owned Amu Power Company – a consortium of companies including Kenyan Gulf Energy, and Centum Investment, and the Chinese Sichuan Electric Power and Design – has proposed to build a coal-fired power plant of between 900 and 1000 megawatts in Manda Bay, Lamu County. The project was supposedly set to be completed in 2016 with that target moving to 2017, however various recent setbacks have made this date unlikely. In the initial stages, the power station will use coal imported from South Africa before using coal extracted from the Mui Basin.
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