Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sabah Scraps RM1.3b Silam Power Plant

From Sabah Development Corridor;

"KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has decided to scrap the controversial RM1.3bil coal-fired power plant and has directed Tenaga Nasional Berhad to look for alternate sources of energy for the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman announced the decision of the state cabinet not to proceed with the 300MW independent power plant as it agreed with the concerns of environmentalists.

“After weighing the pros and cons, the cabinet decided to do away with the proposal because we do not want to risk the welfare of the communities in the area including their health and any adverse impact on the environment,” he said on Wednesday.

He said the proposed plant in Silam was close to the world renowned Danum Valley, Maliau Basin, Darvel Bay and Ulu Segama that are pristine areas with highly sensitive ecosystems.

“We cannot allow for such a plant to be built because these conservation areas have been designated as eco-tourism sites under the Sabah Development Corridor,” he added.

The Star first reported in 2006 the environmentalist opposition to the power plant that was a joint venture between Tenaga Nasional’s subsidiary Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd and Yayasan Sabah that formed a company Lahad Datu Energy Sdn Bhd for the venture.

The plant was to be sited at Yayasan’s abandoned 128.7ha seafront Pacific Hardwood integrated complex that sits at the entrance of Danum Valley along the Darvel Bay known for its diverse marine life.

The detailed EIA report has also been completed by Ecotone Environmental Management Sdn Bhd and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd has notified through an advertisement that the public may review the report from March 31 to April 30, 2008 and written complaints forwarded to the department of environment before May 15.

The cabinet’s decision was immediately welcomed by the Lahad Datu Environment Action Committee chairman Wong Tack who together with villagers and the local business community had opposed the coal plant project in view of health risks and environmental concerns.

Musa said that TNB will be asked to look for alternative sources of energy aside from coal as well as an alternative site away from Darvel Bay.

“I know some say that with today’s technology, the proposed plant is safe and clean but some experts also disagree with this.

“But after careful consideration, we just cannot take the risk and destroy the environment that is intact. We need to look for more environmentally-friendly sources of energy,” he added.

Darvel Bay, Musa said has been described by the scientific world as the “Cradle of Coral Evolution” as the location is the start of coral reefs running through from the Suluwesi Sea to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

“We still have untouched environment. We cannot trade off the environment for progress and deprive future generations of Sabah their natural wonders,” he added."

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