Court rules in favor of NEMA in Bugoma Case

The High Court in Kampala has delivered a ruling in the case where NEMA together with Hoima Sugar LTD, had been sued by Water & Environment Media Network (WEMNET); National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).

The Applicants filed two separate applications for the orders that

1. A declaration that the approval of the project brief/Environmental and Social Impact Statement and the issuing of the Certificate of Approval of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (Certificate No. NEMA/ESIA 13709) by the National Environment Management Authority to the 2nd Respondent on 14th August 2020 for the KYANGWALI MIXED LAND USE PROJECT, was marred by flaws, procedural irregularities and without due recourse to the relevant provisions of the laws and regulations and thereby denying the interested parties including the Applicants a chance to effectively put forth their views aimed at protecting their rights to a clean and healthy environment.

2. An Order of Certiorari quashing the 2nd respondent’s certificate of approval of the Environmental Social Impact Assessment issued by the 1st respondent on 14th day of August for the Kyangwali mixed land use project.

3. An Order of Prohibition stopping the Respondents and any other entity from implementing and acting on the said certificate of Approval.

In the ruling however, it was stated as that;

It appears the applications in this matter were premised on distorted facts and the applicants have attempted the suppress the real facts in order to make ‘flowery’ case in court by exaggerating that the entire forest is being cleared for sugarcane planting or that 5000 hectares (21 square miles) of the forest is being cleared for sugarcane growing. This is not true and it is an alarmism since out of the entire leasehold certificate of title issued to the 2nd respondent, they are supposed to plant sugarcanes on 2,393.8483 hectares against a total area of 5,579 hectares which is less than half.

Secondly, the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve is still intact and the 2nd respondent has been directed to undertake enrichment planting covering an area of 3.8919 sq miles and must carry out regulated activities.

The applicants in order to attract attention of the public and also to justify their existence as as bodies concerned with environment protection and awareness are trying to make all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations to win public sympathy. Courts of law are strictly guided by the law and sensationalism should never be used to sway court in any matter. The key stakeholders were consulted and they made written representations but the applicants seem to argue as if no consultation was ever made before the certificate of approval was made.

The 1st respondent is enjoined under the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State policy in the Constitution to provide sustainable development and public awareness of the need to manage land, air and water resources in a balanced and sustainable manner for the present and future generations.

The application fails and is accordingly dismissed and but each party shall bear its costs. Since the applicants never asked for costs in the application.

Download the full ruling below