What has been shocking for the organisations involved in challenging the Richards Bay Combined Cycle Power Plant project is that locals say they have no knowledge of it. The lack of generalised and robust public consultation has resulted in communities being marginalised and excluded from the public participation process. It’s also against the law.
The Richards Bay of my childhood memories is towering coal chutes, giant brick warehouses and a smoky pall over the town. Hockey injuries on the school fields resulted in blackened wounds that took weeks to heal.
By then, the industry had already taken its toll on the seaside town on the northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal. Two decades later and the town’s industrialisation continues to grow with a new project being considered by Eskom — a 3,000MW combined cycle power plant.