MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Riled over TNB's sly bid to revive 'aborted' coal plant

By Queville To

KOTA KINABALU: A sly attempt by a consortium to revive the controversial 300 megawatt coal-powered electricity plant in Lahad Datu is set to become an election issue as furious activists gear up to battle the state to keep the east coast beach strip pristine and uncontaminated.

The Sabah Environment Protection Association (Sepa) said it heard that the consortium comprising TNB Remaco, Eden-Nova and a Sabah state-owned company would make another attempt to build the plant after its earlier plans were trashed by the authorities.

Said its president, Wong Tack: "I am not surprised (the consortium is trying again). I knew it will make another bid... there is too much at stake. Too much money has already changed hands.

"The proposal is still on the table. The consortium will probably re-submit its plans in January and with election around the corner, they (the government and consortium) will try to push the project through. It's their election tactic."

Wong said Sepa and Green Surf,a coalition of NGOs that battled to prevent the government from going ahead and building the plant in an environmentally sensitive area on the state's east coast, had been keenly monitoring the developments.

"We knew it (the new proposal) was coming. We did not believe they would go away just like that.

"The election will probably be called in March after Chinese New Year and after all the 'special allocations' and goodies have been distributed to the schools and associations," he said.

Stony silence

Wong, who is also Green Surf's representative, said Sabah should be leveraging its position as a biodiversity hub to attract investments for green power.

"Instead, we are wasting time on this proposed coal plant...

"There is a commitment among the international community to support forest, wildlife and marine conservation work in Sabah and here we are talking about building a coal plant between the rainforest of Tabin and the Coral Triangle.

“Building a coal plant in Sabah, and especially next to the Coral Triangle, does not just break the hearts of locals, but also the world,” he said.

The way the government has side-stepped the issue has also raised eyebrows.

Green SURF sent a reminder to the government to clarify the status of the project earlier this month when Sabah hosted an international conference on forests and climate change, but was met with stony silence.

Wong said the conference was the ideal forum for the government to make clear its stand as among the issues discussed was carbon trading as an alternative to logging to earn revenue for the state and conserve key wildlife habitats in the process.

“It doesn’t make sense that we are trying to attract investments in carbon trading if we are going to have a coal plant at an eco-sensitive area.

"We don’t deserve international support for conservation or investments for carbon trading if this is the case,” Wong said.

Environmental death

Wong also pointed out the waste of time, money and effort on debating a dirty energy source as the project has been rejected before and relocated twice.

In the most recent setback for the plant, the Department of Environment rejected the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by the consortium in August after finding it shoddy.

The coal plant project had galvanised the public and environmentalists to protest what they consider the environmental death of a state which is already feeling the effects of the massive deforestation for oil palm plantations.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) had in its 2010 annual report (on page 122) stated that a “revised DEIA report will be re-submitted for review and approval” for the 300-megawatt plant.

The annual report noted: "The site of the proposed 300-MW coal-fired... project in Sabah that was awarded to a consortium of TNB Remaco, Eden-Nova and a Sabah state-owned company has since been relocated to Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu (about 100km from Lahad Datu town).

"The special purpose vehicle company, Lahad Datu Energy Sdn Bhd, which was formed to implement the project has submitted a DEIA study for the new site to DOE Putrajaya on May 26, 2010. A revised DEIA report will be re-submitted for review and approval.”

While saying its DEIA study was submitted on May 26, it makes no mention of its rejection.

Green SURF, (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future), is a coalition of NGOs comprising Sepa, Land Empowerment Animals People , WWF Malaysia, Partners of Community Organisations and the Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch). -FMT

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.