Later the company would admit during the arbitration that the 2008 report was “a little muddled in its expression of the project site.” By this time, Ecogen had notified Nema that it had transferred its licence to Kinangop Wind Park which also received the upgraded license dated May 12, 2010.
With all the licenses in place, Kinangop Wind Park decided to engage the community — and things went awry wrong.
Nema and Kinangop Wind officials knew from the onset this project was not confined to Nene Farm and that explains why they held three meetings in separate locations. This is because the proposed 36 turbines were to stretch in a 16km line from Heni to Magumu.
Even after the Standard Bank of South Africa commissioned a separate review of the 2008 EIA report to assess its compliance with International Finance Corporation (IFC) standards, which are more stringent than Kenya’s, this report was not sent to Nema.
A Nakuru court would later declare that EIA report invalid, throwing the entire project into a spin.
Thus, when Kinangop Wind Park started to negotiate with the farmers on land leases, it was clear from the onset the impact of the project on their land was not captured on the EIA documents which had only concentrated on the Nene Farm.
But a team from Nema which went to the ground they only visited Nene Farm. But when challenged during the arbitration how it was possible to put 38 to 40 wind turbines that would be 300 to 400m apart on the Nene plot of 0.6 square kilometres, the Nema officials are said to have “evaded the question” with one saying she was not a wind turbine expert! Actually, the arbitrators say Nema officials understood the full extent of the project site from the 2008 report — but why they decided not to revoke the license is not clear; although your guess is as good as mine.
Even though 36 landowners had been approached, leasing the land became a poser — and soon it turned into a much more complex issue.
When Wakaba was appointed the CEO of Kinangop Wind Park in January 2014, he visited the site and realised the number of those affected was much higher than existed on the paper. This is because the project had only considered stone structures as the only permanent houses. Everything else was disregarded. There was no provision for their compensation and this was a new fact.
At the meeting of November 2, 2010, Ms Fletcher was asked whether other community members who do not have turbines on their land would receive any payment. She was economical with the truth and said the location of turbines was not known (it was known) and that the rest of the community would benefit through community projects.
“It is apparent from this answer that Aeolus did not plan to pay compensation to the people in the setback area,” said the ruling.
“Put simply, if there had been no issues with the leases... there would have been no issue to be exploited by the politicians.”
The arbitration court was also told the company or their financiers “took unfair advantage …and practiced deception on the farmers who signed leases by taking leases over premises defined as measuring 40 metres by 40 metres and then registering legal charges securing repayment of bank loans amounting to $108 million over the whole title of the property owned by the farmers over and above the demised premises.”
Although the arbitration court did not make a finding on that allegation, there were allegations of bribery and corruption made against the land owner’s representative.
When all these was happening — and perhaps aware of the dangers ahead — Aeolus decided to sell its stake in Kinangop Wind Park to Norfund, a Norwegian equity fund, and the the African Infrastructure Investment Fund 2 (AIIF2) which were to finance the project. The project was to be built by Spanish construction company, Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construccion, which was to install the 38 General Electric 1.6MW wind turbines.
It was the government’s case that Kinangop Wind Park did not have a valid power purchase agreement since it had not secured land rights not had it acquired all the licenses.
On June 23, 2014, a meteorological mast valued at Sh20 million that had been standing on the sight since 2004 was destroyed and the government insinuated that the Company “knew something about the fate of the mast” an allegation “based on hearsay” — according to the London court.
The arbitration court found Kinangop Wind Power failed to engage with the community and sensitise them on the project before acquiring the licenses.
The arbitrators found the meetings held in Nyandarua to oppose the project could not be categorised as riots or civil commotions — and as such they were not political events.
And with that, Kinangop Wind Park appears to have burned out like a candle in the wind.
[email protected] @johnkamau1