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Truckers lose court challenge against solar arrays and wind farms

High Court dismisses application by truck drivers to block renewable energy producers.

The Gauteng division of the High Court has dismissed an application brought by the Coal Transporters Forum (CTF) to set aside certain agreements between Eskom and privately-owned and independent electricity producers.

The underlying motivation for the application to cancel agreements Eskom signed in April last year is to prevent new agreements between Eskom and developers of renewable energy projects such as wind farms and solar arrays.

It seems truck drivers transporting coal by road to Eskom’s power stations feared they would eventually lose their jobs due to the success of renewable energy projects. Court papers describe CTF as a voluntary association with legal personality comprising approximately 50 companies that transport coal for Eskom.

Read: Nedbank withdraws funding for new coal IPPs

Not only did the court dismiss the application, it also ruled that CTF must pay the costs of all 38 parties that the association of truckers had dragged into court. The respondents included Eskom, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa), the minister of energy and 27 independent power producers.

Flimsy case

CTF based its case on what seems to be a rather flimsy legal issue. It argued that Nersa neglected to take a number of decisions prior to the conclusion of the relevant agreements signed last year and, as such, the agreements should be declared null and void.

It used the same argument in its application to the court that Eskom be interdicted from finalising the latest outstanding agreements between the power utility and the developers of three new projects.

Law firm Webber Wentzel, which represented the 27 so-called independent power producers (IPPs) in the legal battle, says CTF had a clear agenda: “To try to put a stop to the IPP programme.”

Gupta link

The law firm says CTF was once again supported in court by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and Transform RSA, a group that Webber Wentzel says is linked to the controversial Gupta family, although they were not formally part of the legal proceedings.

“The High Court ruling confirms that the PPAs [power purchase agreements] that were signed last year were in fact entered into lawfully and that the three remaining IPPs are free to sign their agreements,” says Michael Evans, partner at Webber Wentzel.

“Significantly, any investment that was made after the signing of the PPAs is not under threat and the renewable energy programme in SA remains a viable economic opportunity for investors.”

The court ruling makes for interesting reading and gives a clear, short summary of SA’s energy strategy and the process that Eskom and the department of energy follow when considering new agreements with producers of green energy. Read the judgment here.

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Some lawyer who took on this case didn’t do his homework. He was after a quick buck from his client. Who was the firm or person who took on this case?

My feelings exactly. Publish the lawyers name. Would love to know who gave the truckers legal advice.

couldn’t agree with you more!

Sorry but in my experience all lawyers are just out to make a quick buck. Every lawyer you see will tell you they win all their cases and you have a strong case etc which is just a setup to promote them charging you money. Their favourite expression is “It could be argued that……..” yeah and they have to be paid to talk on your behalf because you are unable to speak and make your own decisions and represent yourself as they downgrade you to an imbecil so that the learned member may converse in lawyer lingo they studied and became fluent in for 7 years……….

I have a feeling it’s been lead by deep pocketed parties with vested interests.

Perhaps truck drivers should stick to driving trucks. Keeping their eyes on the road and stay in their lanes and safe stuff like that?

The truck drivers a the foot soldiers. Look higher up like Union Bosses losing membership and voting power as well as they are politically aligned.

I recommend to horse drawn cart operators to sue trucking companies for taking their jobs. Imagine how many more jobs would be created if everything had to be transported by horse drawn carts and ox wagons 🙂

No it’s the guy who invented the wheel – colonial piece of rubbish … if we never had the wheel employment would be 101 percent …

And this kind of mentality is exactly why Africa will always be centuries behind the rest of the world.

In a country with 40% unemployment it is rather strange how we are quick to embrace job destructive policies that will only benefit a few people.

Collective Punishment.. remember this thing from apartheid? Basically it can be argued that the labour unions et al are essentially imposing this on the rest of the populous. So we’ve come full circle hey?

Is it really fair to claim this is destructive job policy? Government should not be in business for this reason as every time their ‘save’ labour this way, they actually cause more job losses in other sectors which is arguable worse by numbers.. a quick look at the news and you will see a LOT more jobs being slashed due to hire costs.

So no.. its only destructive if you believe in the tooth fairy and that growth can be obtained without improved efficiency. Something every country globally has to decide on as we essentially compete globally for business.

higher energy costs (typo).. and electric grid instability is a greater threat.

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