View All Blogs Register Login
Hot Spots

Going Native
Going Native
News from Port Elizabeth
News from Port Elizabeth
News from Jeffreys Bay
News from Jeffreys Bay
News from Port Alfred
News from Port Alfred
La Femme
La Femme
Job Zone
Job Zone
Business Directory
Business Directory

Quarry a scar in fynbos valley
12 March 2011
Guy Rogers

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) has called on the Green Scorpions to investigate a Parson’s Vlei stone quarry project which, they say, is flouting several key metro conservation and development plans. The controversy over the project has erupted, ironically, a few days after the metro’s celebration of its bio-regional plan. The milestone plan seeks to chart a path for sustainable development by overlaying conservation and development needs.

But the site of the stone quarry, on a belt of pristine fynbos north of the vlei, falls within an area identified in the plan as “a core area of conservation importance”, a participant at last week’s function at the Feathermarket Hall said.

Contacted for comment, Metro Quarries said only that their operation has been approved by the department of mineral resources (DMR).

Although the department failed to respond to questions sent to them last week, this approval was confirmed by senior NMBM conservation officer Wesley Berrington.

But Berrington said the department appeared to have taken no account in issuing its ruling of the metro’s plans for the area or of the impact of the quarry on the environment.

“The site is on Anglican Church land but the church set aside this land historically for the metro to develop a green corridor which was going to extend through Van der Kemp’s Kloof Nature Reserve to Swartkops River and through Bridgemead and Hopewell out to the Van Stadens and eventually Groendal.

“It was going to be used to link up the Guinea Fowl Trail and the Baakens River Valley in a great loop through the city for the enjoyment of all residents.

“Now, exactly where this trail would have been – there is a big scar.”

This historical plan has been recognised by at least one assessment of  a previous mining application, with the ruling that there should be no mining east of Mission Road, he said.

“The assessment was not done for the site now under discussion – but it is the same area, and it should have been taken into account by the department. But they seem to have taken no notice of it.”

The site has been developed on a tract of virgin fynbos and it was clear when he visited the site that a number of protected plants have been crushed by the excavated rubble, he said.

“Just one example is the watsonias. This is a relatively common species but it is protected and you need a permit from the provincial environment department before you can damage or remove these species. There is nothing in the documentation that indicates that this permit has been obtained.”

As The Herald noted when we visited the site last week, the quarry is operating above a vlei area. The stream that runs through this area runs into Van der Kemp’s Kloof Nature Reserve, Berrington said. Despite the presence of Kuyga township to the south-west, the stream is purified by wetlands as it runs north-east and it becomes crystal clear, he said.

“It is home to bullfrog species which are range restricted to that area.”

Berrington said that although DMR is a key player in considering mining applications, the department has to by law take into account all environmental impacts.

“But the only remotely environmental part in the permit issued by them refers to what must be done with fossils if they are found.

“It makes no sense. I have already discussed the whole matter with regional green scorpions’ director Div de Villiers and I e-mailed him all the the details and concerns today.”

A reliable source in the land planning sector said the area is important because of its size and unspoilt character. It provides several free eco-system services to the metro including clean fresh water and contains “one of the last significant tracts” of grassy fynbos, a vulnerable veld type.

“This is one of our crown jewels. Approving a quarry operation in this area seems highly questionable.”

A copy of the environmental management plan (EMP) prepared by Stellenryck Environmental Solutions for the project says the aim is to extract 150000 cubic metres of quartzite from the 1.5ha site. The applicant company is named as Almenta 46 and Mawethu Civils is noted as the company that has committed to buy the stone.

The EMP notes that while the area is transformed from its natural character, “the site is still undisturbed and still has an intact ecological system.”

It emphasises the need for rehabilitation of the site but says “no complete remedy is anticipated over the short term.

“Since this is not a conservation area the need to maintain biodiversity is not a prerequisite.”

Stellenryck was contacted for comment on these points and their conflict with the metro’s view, but they called for questions to be put in writing and no answers were available by the time of going to print.

The environment director in the PE region office of the EC department of economic development and environmental affairs (Dedea), Jeff Govender, said a team from his office was investigating.

Arnold Slabbert, director of the conservation organisation Wildline, one of the people in the metro most familiar with the area, said the mineral laws at the centre of the dispute needed to be questioned.

“The law that allows a mining company to access land despite the objection of a sister department and even the land-owner, is bully-boy legislation, in my view. Eco-protection is negligible and it is not socially empowering.”

No comment could be obtained from the Anglican Church but it is reliably understood that they opposed the application to mine.


Add your comment

To comment on this article please login or register

Recent Articles

Two more bodies found after KZN storm

Two more bodies have been recovered after a storm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, bringing the confirmed death toll to seven, the provincial co-operative governance department said on Thursday (12/01/2012).

Mother in court for murder

TAARIQ Jacobs spent Christmas Day happily splashing in the water with his grandmother. A week later, the cherub- faced two-year-old was found in a shallow grave in Mitchells Plain.

China warns US to be ‘careful’ in military refocus on Asia.

BEIJING – China’s Ministry of Defence on Monday (09/01/2012) warned the United States to be “careful in its words and actions”, and said it was closely monitoring the impact of a new US defence strategy that gives more emphasis to responding to China’s rise.

Your Views

alcan 11 January 2012 3:56 am

Well done Noel Sefier! Give that man a ‘Bells’!…

vim 9 January 2012 3:23 pm

I agree with Keith, Letters to the Editor 09Jan re near drowning. I am not a medic and fortunately have not had to resuscitate a small child, but have always considered my first response would be to …

Karen 9 January 2012 11:10 am

Well done to Science Mann …

Sagebrush 8 January 2012 4:47 pm

Well done. Now I hope you all get jobs in 2012….

Science Mann 7 January 2012 7:49 am

I agree with Muis. The best batsmen in the world often had nothing. Bradman practiced by himself using a stump and a golf ball, Brian Lara played for hours in his mum’s driveway, Viv Richards played o…

Science Mann 6 January 2012 6:24 pm

Paul, when you say you have researched the debate over creation/evolution, did you stop to first understand the science of it, or just read what creationists have to say on the matter? I hate to say i…

Science Mann 6 January 2012 6:10 pm

Mary, To support your interpretation that ‘days’ was a measure of time, the original Hebrew word was ‘yod’. Yod can either mean ‘day’ or ‘long period of time’. If you want to jam science into seven y…

Science Mann 6 January 2012 5:46 pm

That’s right Patrys, there is no such thing as a soul. The mind and soul are products of our brain, and that is affected by how we are born, how we choose to live, and our experiences along the way. I…

Matthem 6 January 2012 12:44 pm

@ jagster. Why is everything about race, all Muis was trying to say was that all races of people are poor, not just black people. Its people like you who have a chip on their shoulder and bring our be…

mcluhanist 6 January 2012 12:27 pm

If the Moses and the Israelites didn’t know murder, stealing and rape were morally wrong during their 40 year meander through the desert they would have never reached Mount Sinai in the first place……