Assessment of Lamu coal plant by UNESCO mission
Excerpts from report (29 June 2020) following mission visit (29 November to 4 December 2019)
Report on the Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / ICCROM Reactive Monitoring Mission to Lamu Old Town
Overall conclusion of report, as in Executive Summary:
Extensive challenges facing the property that cumulatively, and in some cases individually, have the potential to impact adversely on the integrity and authenticity of the property, and thus on its OUV, to a degree that could put the property in Danger.
Summary of assessment of Lamu coal plant project:
With regard to the planned Lamu Coal Power Station project, the mission concludes that the concerns regarding the proposed coal-fired power plant aired in previous World Heritage Committee decisions remain both valid and urgent, despite the project being temporarily halted.
Recommendation #1— Consideration to requesting inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger
The mission recommends that the State Party give serious consideration to requesting the World Heritage Committee to include Lamu Old Town on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Recommendation #12 — Coal fired power station
The mission recommends that the State Party not proceed with the proposed Lamu Coal Fired Power Station (Lamu Coal project) as the project will have negative impacts on the OUV of the Lamu Old Town World Heritage property, including also on the livelihoods and culture of its people. Should alternative proposals, including utilising other energy sources such as gas, solar, or wind, be investigated — and there is any indication that this may have any impact on the OUV of the Lamu Old Town World Heritage property –, such proposals should be assessed through Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments conformant to Paragraphs 110 and 118bis of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Such assessments should address, at minimum, direct and indirect, immediate and cumulative impacts on the OUV of the Lamu Old Town World Heritage property and include assessment of impacts on culture and livelihoods, also considering the potential impact on marine environments, taking into account the status of the Kiunga and Kiwaiyu MAB Biosphere Reserves. Such assessments should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before the assessments are finalised and their recommendations implemented.
Discussion on Lamu coal plant
The mission visited the site of the proposed Lamu Coal Project and confirms that no construction was taking place at that time. The mission also concludes that there is a real potential impact of the proposed plans on the OUV of the property, were it to be eventually constructed.
The mission did not receive the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) or any of the other studies requested to determine the precise impacts of this project on the OUV of the property for review. The mission was informed that the project is on hold because one of the main funders, the African Development Bank, has withdrawn its support for the project.
The mission concludes that the concerns regarding the proposed coal-fired power plant aired in previous World Heritage Committee decisions remain valid. The proposed infrastructure could have a direct visual impact, while the pollution caused by the plant could also negatively affect the property directly, but also impact livelihoods, and therefore the living culture of the property through potential negative environmental impacts, especially on maritime environments.
Missing additional studies of coal pollution impacts on Lamu Old Town buildings or other valuable attributes
In addition to the recommendations specifically about the LAPSSET development, other World Heritage Committee recommendations that remain to be addressed include… to Carry out additional studies to ascertain any effects that the pollution resulting from the coal-fired power plant may have on the fragile coral stone buildings of the Old Town and any other impacts on other attributes that carry the OUV of the property (Decisions 43 COM 7B.107)
Increasing possibility of Lamu Old Town’s inclusion on List of World Heritage in Danger
The State Party may well wish to look towards the International Community for assistance in addressing the state of conservation of the property, which, if it is not addressed urgently, will mandate a recommendation for the inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to both Ascertained and Potential Danger. It is the opinion of the mission that the decayed physical state of conservation of the property alone could lead to consideration of danger listing, but when coupled with the potential impacts of the LAPSSET project, the Lamu Coal Power Plant project (if it were to restart), and other management failures, the possibility of danger listing becomes even stronger.