Krabi residents’ concerns about the impact of a proposed coal-power plant will be passed on to the Ministry of Energy, says the Minister for Tourism and Sports.
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said the ministry supported environmentally-friendly development, saying it was important for the country.
She told a group protesting against the proposed coal plant that she had no authority to halt the project after they staged a silent protest.
The group held signs saying “Protect Krabi from coal” and “Krabi tourism is dead” in front of the ministry’s headquarters on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and refused to leave unless the minister promised to take action.
Ms Kobkarn said she will study the impact of the plant and consult with the energy minister.
Protesters say the coal plant will cause damage to their homes and local tourism.
In 2012, Krabi earned over 48 billion baht from tourism alone.
The group also said coal transported to Krabi will contaminate the Andaman sea and the air will be polluted by coal fumes, which could spread across a 960km radius.
Protester Prasitchai Nunuan said his group had to call on Ms Kobkarn to urge the government to protect Krabi from the coal plant because two Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) reports for the project have recently been completed.
The EHIA report for Krabi’s 800-megawatt plant was being forwarded to the Office of National Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s committee for scrutiny.
Another report for a coal sea-port project in Krabi was being scrutinised by the same committee, he said.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) plans to construct the coal-power plant in Krabi by 2019 and also has plans underway for a 2,000-megawatt coal-power plant in Songkhla’s Thepha district by 2025.
The protest network has submitted 16 letters of complaint about the coal plant to the ministry of Tourism and Sports over the past three years but has never received any feedback, Mr Prasitchai said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made it clear the government intends to go ahead with the coal-power plant in Krabi as part of its strategy to secure the country’s long-term energy stability.
Despite local communities’ opposition to the two projects in Krabi, Gen Prayut said he believes new technology at the plants could make the energy cleaner and help save the country money on the import of natural gas and crude oil.