Judgment reserved in Chapman’s Peak case

Photo by Anthony Allen, THE AERIAL PERSPECTIVE

This photo by Anthony Allen, THE AERIAL PERSPECTIVE is from the Protect Chapman’s Peak Movement album.
See PCPM Photo Album for more….

Independent Online
29 May 2012

The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment on Tuesday on whether to grant an interdict halting construction of a toll plaza on Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town.

It had heard that premier Helen Zille and transport MEC Robin Carlisle did not received proper environmental authorisation to build the plaza, as required by the Protected Areas Act, and needed to “jump through several more legal hoops”.

Jeremy Muller, for the Hout Bay Residents’ Association and national NGO the Habitat Council, said written permission had not been given by the national environmental affairs department and SA National Parks (SANParks).

“The (environmental affairs) minister (Edna Molewa) and SANParks CEO David Mabunda need to apply their minds. It’s quite clear that they have not because none of them have been asked to do so,” Muller said.

Sean Rosenberg, for Zille and Carlisle, had previously said the necessary permission had been granted under former environmental affairs legislation.

On Tuesday, he said Molewa had been very quiet on the matter. This suggested there were no grounds to say environmental authorisation had not been granted. Rosenberg said Molewa was in the best position to stop construction should she feel the correct procedures had not been followed.

A department representative told the court on Tuesday, however, that permission had never been granted in terms of the World Heritage Conservation Act. He did not elaborate.

Rosenberg argued that a delay in the construction of the Chapman’s Peak toll plaza would have disastrous consequences. An interdict would delay the completion date by a year, from July 2013 to July 2014, and cost R9 million, based on a loss of efficiency and escalation in building costs.

Construction company Murray and Roberts, a senior partner in concessionaire Entilini, might also be tempted to bow out of the deal.

“There is a good risk that their patience may run out and that they may cancel this agreement on the basis that interim relief was granted,” he said.

Such a cancellation would cost the province in the region of R141 million.

Judge Bennie Griesel is expected to hand down judgment in two to three weeks. – Sapa

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