Environmental groups head to court to halt govt's nuclear plans

In a written reply to Parliament, Energy Minister David Mahlobo has reiterated that there's no nuclear energy deal and that he is not looking to expedite one.

FILE: Protesters outside of the Western Cape High Court where it was ruled that government's decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy is unlawful and unconstitutional. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Two environmental organisations will return to the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday for an urgent interdict to stop any of government's nuclear procurement plans, unless a compromise can be reached by their legal teams.

In a written reply to Parliament, Energy Minister David Mahlobo has reiterated that there's no nuclear energy deal and that he is not looking to expedite one.

But Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute says it's necessary to head to the courts again, to confirm his commitment that public participation will be held before any procurement process begins.

Earlier this month, the Nuclear Energy Corporation told Parliament's Energy Committee that it had received 38 responses to its request for information to build a nuclear plant.

Now Earthlife Africa and the Faith Communities Environment Institute want the court to declare that no steps be taken without public consultation and a lawful determination in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act.

It also wants the court to direct the Energy Minister and Eskom, to provide written reports on what steps they have taken, and plan to take, to procure nuclear power.

The institute's Liz McDaid said: “Where we’re right now is that we’re due to be in court on Wednesday but we’re hopeful that sanity will prevail and that we’ll reach a deal with the legal team.”

Government hopes that by 2030, at least 20% of the country's power will come from nuclear energy.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)