Bobby Jordan Feb 01, 2009 Source: Sunday Times
Eskom is evicting tenants from pristine coastal land earmarked for nuclear power stations — despite the official postponement of the country’s nuclear expansion programme.
But some tenants and landowners are refusing to budge, claiming the right to stay on until government decides when, where or even if any new nuclear reactors will be built.
Eskom announced its decision in December to postpone the commercial bid procurement process for the construction of two new conventional nuclear power stations on the coast, citing economic constraints as the reason. But it said this week that, despite the delay, it wanted all tenants off its property, adding that it had yet to decide whether to buy out remaining landowners (in the buffer zone).
The two proposed nuclear sites are Thyspunt near Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape, and Bantamsklip near Hermanus in the Western Cape. “Eskom will continue with the termination of the lease agreements on Thyspunt and Bantamsklip,” said spokesman Tony Stott.
Eskom said the government was not abandoning its nuclear programme, but rather delaying it indefinitely. This has left affected coastal residents and communities in limbo.
Eskom sent “termination of lease” letters last year to several tenants outside Oyster Bay whose houses fall within the buffer zone required around nuclear reactor facilities.
From the 1980s, Eskom bought coastal land at five candidate sites but, in many cases, leased holiday homes back to the original owners, with an option to repurchase should the nuclear programme not take off. But while the future of the nuclear programme remains unclear, the eviction letters clearly state that it’s time for the residents to move on.
Eskom is also proceeding with an Environmental Impact Assessment at Oyster Bay and Bantamsklip. “The preparatory work will continue to ensure that sites will be ready… as soon as the decisions have been taken and authorisation obtained, ” said Stott.