Anti-coal power plant rally ends after talks

Anti-coal power plant rally ends after talks

Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan (centre, wearing tie) reaches an agreement with representatives of demonstrators against planned coal-fired power plants in Krabi and Songkhla, on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Bangkok, on Tuesday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan (centre, wearing tie) reaches an agreement with representatives of demonstrators against planned coal-fired power plants in Krabi and Songkhla, on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Bangkok, on Tuesday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Protesters against a coal-fired power plant in Krabi and Songkhla called off their rally in front of the United Nations office in Bangkok on Tuesday after the Energy Ministry agreed to conduct a fresh impact assessment.

Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan arrived at the protest site in the morning for talks with representatives of the demonstrators and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).

Under the agreement, Egat will withdraw its environmental health impact assessment (EHIA) for coal-fired power plant projects in the southern provinces of Krabi and Songkhla. The Energy Ministry will conduct a new strategic environmental assessment to determine whether the plants should be built. 

The study will be undertaken by academics accepted by both opponents and proponents of the projects, and is set to conclude its work within nine months. If it recommends against building the plants, the projects will be scrapped. If the study favours construction, neutral authorities will then conduct a new EHIA on the projects.

Tuesday's agreement also called for an end to all lawsuits between Egat and groups opposed to the power plants. Demonstrators dispersed after the agreement was announced..

Opponents of the Krabi and Songkhla plants started their Bangkok rallies late last month near Government House, and then moved to the nearby UN office on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. On Feb 12, a fast was begun by about 30 members the Network of People from Songkhla-Pattani against the Coal Power Plant, and the Save Andaman from Coal group.

Egat was planning to build an 800-megawatt plant in Krabi and a 2000MW plant in Songkhla, with completion set for 2024-2025. Opponents argue the plants would cause massive pollution and other damage to the environment.


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