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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Wednesday 20 February 2019

Court ensures compliance with nuclear rules

The South African Government was likely to find it harder to push through a nuclear deal after the Western Cape High Court last week ruled that proper public consultation processes, as determined earlier this year, would have to be followed, reports Fin24. In court on Wednesday, Energy Minister David Mahlobo and Eskom pledged to adhere to the rules for public consultation set down by the court in April. The court hearing was the result of an urgent application brought by environmental and faith-based groups who feared government was planning to speed up the nuclear procurement process without adhering to the rules set down in April. Earth Life Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (Safcei) were concerned that Mahlobo's invitation to civil society organisations to an Energy Indaba in December would be used to justify public participation for the nuclear deal. The groups feared that the Minister would use the Indaba to speed up the Integrated Resource Plan and Integrated Energy Plan public participation processes to push through nuclear as an energy requirement. However, the court ruled that this would not be sufficient. In affidavits, both Eskom and the Minister committed to following the proper legal processes. This, according to Judge Lee Bozalek, was a procedurally fair public participation process to be followed by Nersa before the Minister can exercise his powers under section 34(1) of the Energy Regulation Act. Advocate David Unterhalter SC, for Earthlife and Safcei, asked the court to suspend the application pending any violation of the undertakings made by Eskom and Mahlobo.