Green Surf wants coal plant scrapped
Tue, 06 Jul 2010 16:31 .KUALA LUMPUR: Environmentalists today condemned a
plan to build a coal-fired power plant in Sabah, saying it will harm the
island's fragile coral reefs and rainforests.
The 300-megawatt plant in Lahad Datu will face the Coral Triangle which is
one of the world's most biodiverse marine environments.
The area, which spans the seas around East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands, is home to 75%
of all known coral species.
The opposition is led by Green Surf, a coalition of groups including the
Malaysian Nature Society, which says the proposal will displace villagers
and threaten endangered species including orangutans and Bornean rhinos.
"There is deep concern globally about the proposal to build a 300-megawatt
plant in Sabah which is known for its orangutan, rhinos and renowned
marine sites like Sipadan," said Cynthia Ong from Green Surf.
"We are saying no to the coal plant. Borneo is a bio-diversified hotspot,
and it will have an impact on the coral reefs," she said.
News reports said construction of the RM1.7 billion power plant could
start in mid-2011 if government approval is granted. The station could
begin operating in two years.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said the coal
plant would meet local electricity demands and help drive economic growth.
"One of the problems in Sabah is insufficient power to fuel growth. Sabah
is facing a severe under-capacity of energy," he said.
The government will "make a decision soon" but will listen to suggestions
from the public, he added.
The plant is the latest energy project to stir controversy in Borneo. The
vast Bakun dam in neighbouring Sarawak which saw swathes of rainforest
cleared and thousands of indigenous people displaced also drew intense
Sabah and Sarawak make up Malaysia's half of Borneo island, which is
shared with Indonesia.