By Pratch Rujivanarom
Energy Minister Siri Jiraphanpong met protesters in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok to negotiate an end to their dispute.
It was agreed to let Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) determine the fate of the two projects.
They agreed that the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand would withdraw its impact assessments on the projects within three days and formally notify the opponents in writing.
The Energy Ministry will then have neutral academics oversee the SEA, in which the suitability of the power plants’ construction in both locations will be considered.
The projects’ fate based on the SEA results will be decided within nine months.
If the power plants are deemed unsuitable, it was agreed, the authority will abandon the plans. If they are deemed suitable, impact assessments will be conducted by neutral academics.
It was further agreed that all lawsuits between Egat and the protesters will be terminated.
Siri on behalf of the government and five representatives of the opponents signed a memorandum of understanding formalising their compromise.
Prasitchai Nu-nuan, a leader of Save Andaman from Coal, called the breakthrough a momentous success for opponents of the power plants, who are confident – if the SEA studies are done properly – that the projects will be abandoned.
The meeting ended amid cheers, songs and keepsake photos before the protesters cleaned up the site and headed home.