Recon disputes LAC’s claim about zero public consultations

Hertta –Maria Amutenja

Recon Energy Namibia(REN) has refuted claims by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) that there was a lack of public consultations for the amendment of an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) for the oil company.

Last week, the LAC said there were submissions made about the lack of public consultation for the clearance certificate.

“Despite submissions made, in particular around the lack of public consultation and the inadequacies of the environmental impact assessment undertaken in the first application, the Environmental Commissioner failed to consider such and granted the amendment of the ECC 0091,” Corinna van Wyk of the Land, Environment and Development department at LAC said.

ReaconAfrica has come forward to defend itself, claiming that consultations were in fact carried out.

“In opposition, rebuttable evidence was tendered by REN. The witness who testified on behalf of REN confirmed that there was indeed public consultation with the interested and affected parties and various documentary evidence including the Environmental Impact Assessment were submitted to the Minister,” ReconAfrica Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Ndapewoshali Shapwanale.

Additionally, the oil company disputed LAC’s claims that it believes the EC’s decision may be legally wrong.

“We feel constrained to point out, that it was not submitted, and it was never the respondent’s position, that the EC’s decision may be wrong in law as contained in the LAC Press release. To the contrary, REN submitted that the Environmental Commissioner’s decision was legally and factually correct,” said Shapwanale.

LAC said ReaconAfrica is of the view that the EC’s decision may be wrong in law, but on the facts before the Minister, there is no basis for dismissal of the decision.

The oil company will soon learn the outcome of its Environmental Clearance Certificate application later this month, after the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta reserved judgment following the hearing of arguments both in support of and against the Environmental Commissioner’s decision to revise an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC).

The Kavango East and West Regional Conservancy and Community Forest Association, Katope Community Forest Management Committee, Muduva Nyangana Communal Conservancy Management Committee, and Ncumcara Community Forest Management Committee filed an appeal last year, challenging Recon’s clearance certificate.

Additionally, the decision of the Environmental Commissioner to grant the certificate to the Canadian oil and gas company has been appealed by The Economic and Social Justice Trust (ESJT). The groups assert that ReconAfrica violated the rights of Namibians by using an amendment procedure to avoid public participation rather than submitting an application for a new ECC.

ReconAfrica, is currently drilling to establish commercial quantities of oil in Namibia’s northeast.

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