Sabah cancels Lahad Datu coal power plant

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-The Malaysian Insider-

UPDATED @ 04:35:58 PM 16-02-2011
February 16, 2011

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 16 — Sabah has scrapped the controversial coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu, saying today it will look for alternative energy sources after a three year-long campaign by environmentalists.

“I am pleased to announce that federal and state governments have agreed to pursue other alternative sources of energy namely gas to meet Sabah’s power supply needs,” Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said in a statement released this afternoon.

“I know there have been certain objections to the proposed coal powered plant. Today is proof that such objections have not fallen on deaf ears.”

The Department of Environment (DOE) had rejected the detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) for the proposed RM1.3 billion 300-MW coal-fired plant in Felda Sahabat in August last year because many important environmental parameters in the proposed project were not addressed in the report.

Musa said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak understood the state’s grave concern for the environment in Malaysia’s easternmost state and that he has asked Tenaga Nasional and Petronas to come up with alternatives to replace the proposed plant in Lahad Datu.

“The prime minister understands that while we need to build up our power supply in Sabah, it can’t be done at the expense of the people’s welfare and the environment,” Musa said, adding that Najib knows that the state’s greatest asset is its natural attraction and “somewhat pristine environment.”

“While Sabah needs to increase power supply to meet increasing development, the state cannot afford to put its natural environment at risk.

“As a responsible government, it is paramount that we put priority on protecting our environment for the wellbeing of the people. We must also protect the environment especially since it’s one of the biggest tourism draws in Sabah,” he added.

The Malaysian Insider had previously reported that an environmental impact assessment on the proposed power plant stated that its construction stands to raise surrounding sea temperature by four degrees Celsius as well as damaging the livelihoods of local fishermen.

According to documents made available to The Malaysian Insider, the power plant near Kampung Sinakut, Lahad Datu, will also result in the loss of a traditional seaweed farming area measuring 4km.

The 300MW plant was proposed to generate power supply to help spur development of the Palm Oil Industries Cluster (POIC) Lahad Datu.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that the maximum total ash generation in the power plant is estimated at 49,000 tonnes per year.

The coal plant was initially proposed in Silam, near Lahad Datu, and Sandakan, but both were rejected by the state government following protests.

Lahad Datu is located within Tawau in eastern Sabah and occupies the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay. The district is also the gateway to the Danum Valley Conservation Area (160km away), the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east (20km away), and Madai Caves in the south.

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