The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has received a Coastal Waters Discharge Permit, which enables the organisation to move forward with the proposed coastal-dependent industries, including projects for power provision, desalination and aquaculture.

These projects include two 1 000-megawatt (MW) liquefied natural gas (LNG) power stations, a land-based aquaculture development zone (ADZ), and a desalination plant with maximum capacity of 60 megalitres (ML) per day.

While authorisation has been granted for a 60 ML desalination plant, plans are currently underway for the development of a 15 ML desalination plant in Zone 10 of the Coega (Special Economic Zone) SEZ.

CDC Environmental Project Manager: Sustainability Business Unit, Andrea von Holdt, said the Coastal Waters Discharge Permit flows from an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, whereby the CDC was granted Environmental Authorisation on 27 September 2021 for the Marine Intake and Outfall Infrastructure and Servitudes Project.

An Environmental Authorisation for the Coega land-based ADZ, which includes a desalination plant, was granted on 7 February 2018. 

The purpose of the Marine Intake and Outfall Infrastructure and Servitudes Project is to enable the provisioning of seawater to various industries within the Coega SEZ (power provision, seawater desalination plant and ADZ) via a number of seawater intakes, and to discharge treated effluents into the marine environment.

In terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act No. 24 of 2008), this infrastructure is defined as coastal dependant, and needs to be constructed along the coast adjacent to the Coega SEZ.

“Receiving environmental authorisation for catalytic projects such as these is an incredible achievement for the Coega SEZ. Not only is it indicative of the value we place on environmental sustainability, but it paves the way for the advancement of sustainable development across the region.

“Environmental best practice would be to find alternative ways to treat effluent and this is something we strive towards. While discharge into the ocean is not ideal, the Coastal Waters Discharge Permit was a prerequisite to move forward with future developments. The fact that the permit was granted to the CDC is a major achievement, as we have been trusted to adhere to very strict conditions,” Von Holdt said on Monday. 

The CDC affirmed its commitment to effective environmental management and sustainable development, and to ensure that the integrity of the adjacent marine protected area is maintained.

An Environmental Impact Assessment for two 1 000 MW LNG power stations is currently underway. The proposed gas infrastructure will consist of all key supporting infrastructure required for the operation of the CDC’s proposed gas to power plants in the Coega SEZ.

“This will be made up specifically of infrastructure for the import, storage and transmission of LNG via the Port of Ngqura to the various power plants and seawater for cooling of the Zone 10 power plants (should they be seawater cooled).

“Additional capacity of supply of LNG and natural gas to third party off takers, potentially including the Dedisa Peaking Power Plant, should this be converted to gas, will also be included.

“The overall purpose of the Coega ADZ is to create an investment-ready platform for planned commercial aquaculture operations to establish within the Coega SEZ, thereby facilitating entrance into and boosting growth of the sector in the region,” the CDC said.

In the context of the ongoing Nelson Mandela Bay water crisis, the Coastal Waters Discharge Permit is extremely welcomed in terms of facilitating development of the Coega Desalination Plant.

In addition to supplying Nelson Mandela Bay with drinking water, the future plant is expected to add a much-needed boost to the local economy.