Environment Conservation Group say developers proposal a logical absurdity, a clear case of putting the cart before the horse




8th March, 2013

To: Environmental and Spatial Planning Directorate,

     Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning

     Provincial Government Western Cape

     Private Bag X9086

     Cape Town, 8000

For the attention of: Mr Chris Rabie

Fax: 021 483 4527

E-mail: Christian.Rabie@westerncape.gov.za

Anka.Everts@ westerncape.gov.za

Dear Mr Rabie

Further Comments on Draft Western Cape Land Use Planning Bill, 2013

The Hout Bay & Llandudno Environment Conservation Group (ECG) has just received a copy of the Western Cape Property Development Forum’s (PDF) submission to you in response to your Department’s P.N. 5/2013 of 18 January 2013. The ECG and its member organisations wish to submit the following few additional comments from the ECG in the light of assertions made by the WC PDF.

In paragraph 28 of its submission the PDF states:

Section 54(2): This clause should be drafted in peremptory terms, i.e. an organ of state that fails to comment within the prescribed period ‘must’ be regarded as having no comment. As long as the exclusion is a possibility rather than a certainty, organs of state will continue to drag their feet, as they have unfortunately done for years and the delays that exemplify our approval processes at the moment will not end. Whilst it is common knowledge that delays caused by other organs’ of state’s lethargic approach to land use applications retard property development and the spin-offs it brings for the public at large, we find the language in which this provision is couched at present disappointing.”

The ECG considers that the action required in the case of organs of state dragging their feet, if this does take place, should be to refer the matter to their higher authority, who will no doubt be able to expedite a response from the officials concerned.

The action by the Department of the Environment and Tourism should never be to exclude other concerned organs of state completely from a particular planning process.

In addition in paragraph 24 of its submission the PDF states:
“Section 47 (proposed addition): As there is a commonly held, but in our view incorrect, opinion that land use approvals may only be given once environmental approval has been granted, we feel strongly that a provision should be included in the Act confirming that this is not the case.”

This proposal is a logical absurdity and is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse. Land Use Approvals are predicated on the specific Environmental Authorisation (EA) for the proposed development and thus the former must take all the conditions specified in the EA into account. If this were not so the EA would have no purpose. The ECG accepts that the process of considering land use approvals might be undertaken in parallel with consideration of the environmental authorisation but the findings of the EA and its conditions must be issued before the land use approvals can be finalised, so that the EA conditions can be taken into account in the land use approvals.

The ECG and its member organisations also feel strongly that Environmental Authorisations must determine land use approvals in accordance with the National Environment Management Act (NEMA).

It is clear throughout the Western Cape Property Development Forum’s submission that the PDF is concerned to have all planning authority and powers resting with Municipalities rather than retain an effective Provincial oversight of planning processes as and when required. It must be concluded from this that Developers believe that they can influence the decisions of municipalities significantly more easily than those of provincial authorities. This serves to reinforce the concerns expressed by the ECG in its earlier submission dated 6 March 2013.

Yours sincerely

Richard Timms

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