|[Published: Tuesday July 01 2008]
Anger at Kenyabiofuel approval
Nairobi , 02 July-(ANA)- Kenyan environmentalists say the government should revoke a decision toallow a controversial biofuels project to go ahead.
The projectinvolves growing sugarcane for biofuels in coastal wetlands.
The project'sbackers argue the development in the Tana River Delta will produce ethanol andgenerate power, providing thousands of jobs.
But Nature Kenya says theproject threatens the habitat of hundreds of species in the 20,000-hectaresite.
"Clearly thesespecies are going to be really negatively impacted," Sarah Munguti, theorganisation's spokeswoman, told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
The area, morethan 100km (62 miles) north of the port city of Mombasa, has 350 species ofbirds as well as lions, elephants, rare sharks and reptiles including the Tanawrithing skink, according to the UK's Royal Society for the Protection ofBirds.
Crops likesugarcane and corn are used to produce biofuel, an alternative to fossil-basedfuels like petrol.
The TanaIntegrated Sugar Project aims to produce 23 million litres of ethanol a year.
The 9m plantwill mill 8,000 tonnes of sugar cane daily and generate 34 megawatts ofelectricity, as well as creating thousands of jobs, the project's developerssay.
But theenvironmental impact report on the project was flawed and did not incorporateconcerns raised by environmentalists, Ms Munguti said.
She added thatthe project was not economically viable because its income had beenoverestimated by three times, and it would not improve the lives of localresidents.
"They don'ttake into account the lost livelihood due to the project because local peoplewill be displaced," she said.
The production ofbiofuel has been blamed for rising food prices and shortages by divertingresources from the cultivation of food crops.
UK aid agency Oxfamsays the push for biofuels has dragged more than 30m people worldwide intopoverty. (ANA)