Chappies plaza faces another court challenge

Cape Times
October 4 2012

GREEN Party leader Judith Sole is bringing a new legal challenge against the toll plaza under construction on Chapman’s Peak.

Sole said yesterday: “I have to do this otherwise we allow a precedent to be set where anyone is entitled to build in a protected area just by getting a signature.

“When I had finished the legal papers, I had a big horrible feeling in my stomach because I am taking on all these powerful people, but I have to do it because once a precedent has been set, you cannot undo it,” she said.

Sole, of Noordhoek, is aware that two previous court challenges had been lost, but said that did not deter her.

During court action earlier this year Hout Bay residents argued that SANParks’ management plan, a legal document, did not allow that type of development in the national park, nor had approval for the toll plaza been obtained in terms of the legislation governing protected areas.

They sought, but did not get, an interdict to halt development while they fought the case, which could have taken more than a year.

Sole wrote in her affidavit that she was authorised to bring the application on behalf of “all citizens of this country”, and on behalf of future generations, who wished to have protected areas in South Africa. She is not seeking an interdict to halt construction, but says if she wins the case and the toll has been completed, it will have to be demolished.

Al-Ameen Kafaar, spokesman for the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, confirmed yesterday that the department was one of the respondents in Sole’s legal action, and said the provincial government’s legal services were dealing with the matter.

And in the wake of part of the cutting behind the construction site having collapsed at the weekend, the Hout Bay Residents and Ratepayers’ Association has called for all construction to stop until an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been carried out.

Ross Cameron, an environmental assessment practitioner and a member of the executive of the Hout Bay residents’ association, has written to the environmental management committee set up for the toll plaza construction, asking that the developers and authorities stop construction until an EIA has been completed.

“We have identified two streams adjacent to the site within 32m of the site, which means they have to do an EIA under Nema (National Environment Management Act). Even if these run only during floods, they are still water courses and the legislation applies.

“Everyone else has to comply with this law. Work must be halted until the assessment is done. They also need a Water Use Licence in terms of the National Water Act,” Cameron said.

Asked what was being done about the collapsed slope, Rob Pomario of Murray and Roberts said geo-technical engineers had been to the site.

“We awaiting their final findings and remedies,” he said.

Andy Gubb, formerly of the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA, predicted possible slope collapse when he said in an affidavit during the earlier court challenge: “Imminent danger will arise when reprofiling of the bank commences as that would immediately destabilise the bank.”

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