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Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Power Scheme Starts To Gain Ground

The South African firm contracted to prepare an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the USD$3 billion Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Power Scheme, has submitted its preliminary report to the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) and financiers as momentum to construct the project gains ground.

The authority’s director for water resources and environmental management, Christopher Chisense disclosed that the ZRA contracted an independent consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) of South Africa to conduct the ESIA.

The power station will be located near Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River, hundreds of kilometres upstream the Kariba Dam hydropower plant and will generate 2,400 megawatts to be equally split between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Surplus power will be sold to the region.

“The consultant (ERM) has prepared the draft ESIA report and associated Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP), which are still under review by the authority and the financing institutions for the feasibility studies.”

He further said once this process is concluded, the ESIA report will then be disclosed to the public to enable them provide further comments as well as feedback on the adequacy of the proposed mitigation measures.

This disclosure process, which is projected to take place within the first six months of 2018, will include engagement of the Water Rafters Association (WRA), environmentalists, the media and other interested and affected people.

Chisense said through these consultative processes and efforts, the authority is confident the ESIA studies, being undertaken prior to the actual implementation of the Batoka project, will address the concerns of the public including those of the WRA and environmentalists.

The ZRA is also implementing an internationally recognised Sustainability Enhancement Programme for the implementation of the project through the application of the Hydro Power Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HPSAP).

HPSAP is a tool that promotes and guides the process to enhance over 23 identified sustainability factors for hydro power projects.

Lascar Victoria Falls From A Helicopter 4548273362

Aerial view of the Victoria Falls near which the Batoka Gorge HEP project will be located