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ELA wins Thabametsi green lawsuit

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA) has won its lawsuit against the environmental authorisation of a new coal-fired power station, scoring a major victory for the climate change cause.

The judgement in the North Gauteng High Court said that the matter must be referred back to the minister of environmental affairs on the basis that its climate change impacts had not properly been considered.


No comprehensive assessment

In South Africa’s first climate change lawsuit, ELA challenged the minister’s rejection of its appeal against the approval given to the proposed Thabametsi power station in Limpopo. The approval was granted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) even though there had been no comprehensive assessment of the climate change impacts of this new coal-fired power station.

The court ordered that the minister reconsider the appeal, now, taking into account a full climate change impact assessment report, and all public comments received.

Proper consideration must be given

The judgement makes clear that the DEA and the minister should have given proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposed coal-fired power station before a decision could have been made to allow it to go ahead.

“We welcome this judgement, which sends a strong message to government and to all developers proposing projects with potentially significant climate change impacts in South Africa that permission cannot be given for such projects unless the climate change impacts have been properly assessed.

“South Africa is a water-stressed country, and the Waterberg, where the power station would be located, is a particularly water-stressed area. Climate impacts are a big deal for communities and farmers who depend on the limited water available," says Makoma Lekalakala of ELA.

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