Bedford Biofuels Ltd proposed to establish Jatropha plantations on 6 ranches in Tana Delta on 64,000 ha. Phase one would commence on 10,000 ha in Kitangale ranch; phase 2 would take a further 30,000 ha in 4 other ranches, while phase 3 would add another 24,000 ha.
Nature Kenya, EAWLS, and partner organisations were against the project on the basis that a land use plan of Tana Delta was non-existent; recent research suggests that under dry conditions Jatropha will not produce sufficient seeds or oil to make plantations economically viable and advise against Jatropha plantations, except as fences/hedges; wildlife corridors indicated in the EIA are insufficient; and some of the ranches hold wetlands critical for migratory birds from outside Africa On 6 May 2011, NEMA granted the developer a licence for the 1st phase of 10,000ha as pilot for 2 years to enable NEMA to make a final decision on the other phases.
The Compliance Director who approved the project was later suspended as he had irregularly granted the licence in spite of mounting scientific evidence about jatropha not being viable. Environmentalists wondered how a 10,000 ha project could be considered a pilot.
In response, NK and EAWLS filed a petition on 20th July at the National Environment Tribunal challenging the issuance of the licence. They later pulled out to enable the Minister of Environment to revoke the licence as they would not have proceeded with a case pending in court.
Threats of violence were reported, with NK staff in Tana and a local Kadhi Registrar threatened with death threats for questioning the project. Jatropha growing started end of 2011 through 2012. In June 2013, Bedford Biofuels pulled out of its Jatropha biofuel plantation project giving reasons that the political and economic situation was not good for business and closed down operations in Kenya.(See less)