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Environment CS Wakhungu turns her back on Lamu's 204 billion coal project

By Jane Wangechi Mugambi | Published Mon, June 19th 2017 at 06:52, Updated June 19th 2017 at 06:55 GMT +3

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu has said her ministry is opposed to the proposed Sh204.3 billion coal plant in Lamu.

Prof Wakhungu said the energy project would destroy the local environment and affect the health of the population.

Her declaration appears to be a total reversal of the previous strong support for the project by the Jubilee regime.

Wakhungu said the coal plant would be harmful to the environment and that her ministry only supports the production of clean energy that does not have any adverse effects on the surroundings.

“The Ministry of Environment is quite clear that there is no clean coal; coal is dirty, there is nothing like clean coal,” said Wakhungu when she visited the county.

She said although Kenya faces an electricity deficit and needs to invest more to step up production, there was consensus in Government that coal power is dirty and hence not the solution to the country’s energy shortage.

In recent months, Deputy President William Ruto has backed the construction of the plant by Amu Power to generate 1,050 megawatts for the national electricity grid.

In May, Mr Ruto accused county leaders of inciting local residents against the project and insisted new technology would be used to minimise the negative effects of the controversial investment.

According to Ruto, mitigation measures including use of clean coal technologies such as low nitrous oxide burners, electrostatic precipitators and wet fuel gas desulfurisation systems would be used.

The Amu Power project intends to put the plant at Kwawasi in Hindi-Magogoni sub-county.

Wakhungu said the ministry’s position was that Kenya should strive to produce more clean and renewable energy like wind power or solar energy and move away from fossil fuels.

“The Ministry of Environment and natural resources recognises clean renewable energy,” she said.

County Woman Representative Shakila Abdalla has for years opposed the project, saying the plant would emit hazardous chemicals harmful to the residents.

The politician argues that the project poses danger to the lives of locals if brought to life, adding that it could wipe out the small population.

“This project is going to have negative impact on the lives of county residents and that is why I am opposed to it,” Ms Abdalla said in a recent interview.

The plant is expected to source its coal from the region instead of importing.

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