June 27, 2019

Lamu Coal Plant Project in Kenya Halted by Court Ruling

Nairobi 26th June – Lamu residents were today overwhelmed with joy after the National Environment Tribunal (NET) cancelled the license issued by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to Amu Power for the construction of the Lamu Coal Power Plant. 

NET observed in their judgement that the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) made an error in issuing Amu Power with a license when their environmental impact assessment study (ESIA) did not meet the test of an ESIA study as granted in the Constitution of Kenya and other relevant laws. The members of the tribunal also faulted Amu Power for their failure to conduct effective public participation.  NET chairman Balala, when reading the judgment, said the tribunal could not excuse non-compliance.

“This momentous ruling is a major step toward a fossil free Kenya.  What the deCOALonize movement accomplished in Kenya is the kind of bold and visionary action that puts us on the offensive against the fossil fuel industry. We need more of this kind of action in Kenya and around the continent.  .

Today, we take a moment to celebrate. And tomorrow, we get back to work. We’ll keep the pressure on our elected officials at all levels, and fight for our climate and safety of our communities. City by city, province by province, country by country we won’t stop working to build people power for bold action that matches the scale needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.” Rukiya Kamis, 350.org Africa Field Organiser

“Public participation is the oxygen that gives life to an ESIA report” Said Chairman Balala.

NET has allowed the appeal and set aside the license of the coal plant and ordered that Amu power to undertake a fresh ESIA study. Additionally, no construction is to be undertaken.

Save Lamu Vice Chair, Mohammed Mbwana couldn’t hold back tears. After appearing before the NET as a witness and advocating against the coal plant this was the best news in a very long time.

Today we can’t express how much happiness this judgment brings us. We thank the members of the tribunal for listening to our plea and revoking the license granted by NEMA. We’re now old but we  inherited a clean and healthy environment from our fathers and it’s our duty to give our children a clean and healthy environment as well.” said Mr. Mbwana

After three years since appealing NEMA’s license to Amu Power, the community has been waiting with bated breath for justice. Justice not only to live in a healthy environment but also to be heard as Kenyans and have a say in the kind of  development they want.

Another resident of Lamu, Mohammed Athman captured this better in his response to the judgment.

“Now I believe an average Kenyan can go to court and get justice. In the past, people suffered in silence. I am really happy with the judgment.”, he said.

The judgment has restored hope among Kenyans that indeed, the law is the great equalizer – handing justice to the poor and rich alike. No doubt this judgement will set precedence in the country, region and globally.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m excited. I’m beyond overjoyed. This is great but bado mapambano!” said deCOALonize board member, Samia Bwana.

Indeed other ongoing projects in the country that are flouting the Constitutional rights of the people, including public participation and a right to clean and healthy environment are now on notice and contractors and investors must now go back to the drawing board before the law catches up with them. 

This judgment has vindicated Environmental Human Rights defenders and emboldened them to continue fighting for the communities for a better future. In the wake of Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth, being experienced so close in South African countries, we have no obligation but to remain firm and pursue environmental and climate justice everywhere in the country.

This judgment has affirmed Kenya’s position as leader in renewable energy and has firmly put the country on its path to transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2020. Currently, Renewable Energy makes up 70% of the country’s installed electric power capacity.

“Today’s ruling is a major one for the environment, the people of Lamu and Kenya. It has stamped the authority of tribunals in courts to ensure compliance with the rule of law.”, Ochiel Duddley, Lawyer Katiba Institute

Mark Odaga, Lawyer with Natural Justice also recounted the legal journey, expressing his gratitude to the tribunal. 

“What this means is you can’t ignore the concerns of a community when considering a development project. Indeed this case from the start wasn’t about anti-development. It was about giving communities a chance to participate meaningfully in developments concerning them.” he said.

For more information, please contact:

– Abiud Onyach, deCOALonize Campaign Communication Officer on +254727670279 or  by email at [email protected] 

– Lerato Ngakane 350Africa.org Communication Coordinator on +27 81 464 9726 or by    email at [email protected]