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18 Mar 2021

Aim to reduce coal reliance

Gugu Myeni (Zululand Observer)

 

The development of renewable zones and corridors for gas transmission will unlock the country’s alternate energy mix and reduce reliance on coal. This is according to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), following the gazetting of geographical areas for gas transmission pipelines, and large-scale wind and solar energy facilities.

Richards Bay has been identified as one of the strategic corridors for gas transmission pipelines. The corridors will be routed along the coast, with an additional inland link from Richards Bay to the Gauteng and Secunda regions, as well as links from Coega and the Mozambique southern border.

‘The Environmental Authorisation (EA) process has been shortened to allow for a smoother implementation of alternate energy growth in South Africa,’ read a statement issued by DEFF.

‘It is also because the proactive site sensitivity work has been completed through the two-and-a-half-year Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) processes. These determined the environmental sensitivity of each of the zones and corridors. Renewable energy developments within identified zones in South Africa will require an environmental authorisation.’

These planned developments have, however, been criticised by the environmental group Oceans Not Oil, who state it is ‘high risk’ for those who will have to live near the infrastructure.

However, the department said risks were considered through the strategic environmental assessment undertaken to identify the transmission corridors. Landowners will also be identified, should a decision be made to develop a gas pipeline in one of the corridors in future.

‘The landowner will have to have granted approval in principle for the servitude across his or her property prior to the submission of the application for environmental authorisation to the competent authority.’