Nema orders new study on biofuel tree

A team of specialists has been set up to study the viability of the controversial jatropha trees after renewed interest by foreign investors to start the project.

The team was formed by the National Environment management Authority (NEMA).

The move follows a directive by the Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources Mr John Michuki last year to have the relevant agency carry out more research before the government could approve the project.

NEMA’s director of compliance and enforcement Mr Benjamin Langwen said the team will study impact the tree has on the environment.

“It’s the scientific advisory committee that will have the final word on whether the investors can be allowed to go full scale in their jatropha and bio-fuel projects,” Mr Langwen said.

Following this development, an Italian investor who had applied for thousands of hectares of land in Malindi for jatropha biofuel project can only proceed on a pilot basis.

According NEMA the issue of whether the trees were viable or not will be determined through experimentation on a small portion of land and not the entire parcel.

NEMA deputy director in charge of environmental awareness Betty Nzioka said Kenya Jatropha Energy Limited, which had applied for 50,000 hectares in Bangale, Magarini district, will only be allowed to experiment on 10,000 hectares.

The project has been given a lease of 33 years to plant and process bio-fuel.

The company is 100 percent owned by Nouve Iniziative Industriali Sri of Italy.

The company specialises in the production of electric power from renewable sources.

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