Flawed Thyspunt Sense of Place Assessment

Flawed Thyspunt Sense of Place Assessment

This is part of the social impact that can be expected if the project goes ahead. It should have received major attention in the SIR, but is hardly mentioned.

In terms of the EAP’s interpretation of the “Intensity” rating criteria, a high rating should be given  where “valued, important, sensitive or vulnerable  systems or communities are substantially affected.”

The Trust argues that the entire environment under consideration is an irreplaceable  resource.  It is home to an archaeological & paleontological treasure house of some of the earliest known history of mankind, which led SAHRA to reject the project out of hand; access requires major disturbance of wetlands in the by-pass headland dune field system, described by the Dune Morphology specialist as being one of the best examples in the world,  and of high conservation value; it has claims to be declared a World Heritage Site; it will involve 150 kilometres  of transmission lines, traversing areas described in the Transmission line EIA as being “areas of scenic beauty with wide-ranging  vistas and low visual absorption capacity”, including  the Baviaanskloof  Mega Reserve, which is itself a World Heritage Site. Furthermore, it is the sense of place which has attracted people to this “top end” area, which is now world-renowned.

Substantially affected this irreplaceable resource would be by the invasion of incompatible  elements, such as massive industrial  structures, roads, heavy traffic and  equipment, transmission lines; and by artificially importing thousands  of artisans and their families, and unemployed and unskilled  job-seekers, with their construction villages, informal settlements, land invasion and accompanying  social pathologies, for a decade or more.

The site was selected during the apartheid era, when strict influx controls were in place, and the authorities empowered to prevent mass migration of communities in search of work. The fact that this is no longer the case is a cause for rejoicing in the right context, but it can have strong, unmitigable environmental impacts, which can be damaging to sense of place. This has to be factored into any EIA with regard to massive developments, and the implications for an area responsibly assessed. The Social Impact Report virtually ignores it, dismissing it as a “possibility”.

There is no avoiding the fact that this is an inevitable and unmitigable impact; that it will change for ever the sense of place of this area; that the community will be “substantially affected” ,or that this is an irreplaceable resource.

In terms of the EAP’S interpretation of “Intensity”, this can only lead to a “high” significance rating for loss of sense of place, which is a fatal  flaw.

Flawed Thyspunt Social Impact Report (SIR)

Thyspunt Environmental Report “fatally flawed” Continued

The Social Impact Report has been the weakest of the specialist reports during all five drafts. The final report has been described by the Kromme Trust as “vacuous philosophical ramblings, more appropriate to a Scoping Report than to an Environmental  Impact Report”. It has changed little throughout the process, apart from adding out-dated and irrelevant demographic information.

The Kromme Trust has dismissed the entire report, on the grounds that the specialist failed to assess highly relevant issues, including

  • Failure to follow the changes in the Impact Rating Criteria. He is still using the original pre 2011 version, and this affects all of his conclusions.
  • Failure even to mention, let alone comment on the recommendations in the Nuclear Siting Investigation Programme (NSIP) Summary Report Revision 1 of December, 1994, which recommended that “the eastern part of the Oyster Bay area is unsuited to development because of the proximity of several holiday centres”; and that “the small holiday resorts along the coast be left unaffected”.
  • Failure to explore adequately potentially fatal flaws, such as impact on Sense of Place.
  • Failure to provided credible mitigation proposals.
  • Failure to consider the social impact on Lephalale of the Medupi project.
  • Failure to submit a valid Environmental Impact Report.

The Kromme Trust’s conclusion is that

  • the entire Social Impact Report is fatally flawed and should be rejected in its entirety;
  • the specialist should be replaced by a more competent person; and
  • a totally new Social Impact Report should be drawn up in terms of Section 33 of the NEMA

A runner’s dream – The Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon

Knysna Forest Marathon described as tough but beautiful

The Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon will take place on Saturday 9 July as part of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival which runs from 1 to 10 July 2016. With the Half Marathon entries already sold out, you have the opportunity to challenge yourself and take on the full marathon! Visitors can also look forward to more than 100 activities during the 10-day Festival, with a mixture of sporting and lifestyle events. With something for everyone, it is a week you won’t want to miss.

Knysna Marathon

The Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon, known as one of South Africa’s most sought-after running events, offers exceptional highlights found in no other race anywhere in the world – particularly the scenery as most of the run takes place deep in the forest. Whether you compete in the half (21km) or the full (42km) marathon  , runners can expect breath-taking views over the Knysna lagoon towards the Knysna Heads, the perfect inspiration towards the finish.

Local taxis provide participants with a trip to the start like no other provided by local taxis. Early arrivals get to enjoy a hot drink and snacks next to warming fires, courtesy of Pick n Pay. Participants are encouraged to arrive dressed warmly due to the early start of the race when temperatures in the forest are bitterly cold.

As in previous years, Momentum will be donating 2,000 blankets to keep runners warm at the start. (First come first served, so come early). The added bonus is that once the race starts the blankets are then collected up and donated to charities supporting families in local communities in Knysna. There is also a great tradition of people leaving behind their warm clothing that they wore to the start.  It would be great if runners could be encouraged to wear or bring kit to donate.

Marathon substitutions end on 27 May and entries can only be secured online at www.knysnamarathonclub.com. Pricing is as follows:

  • Half Marathon entries cost R120 (sold out)
  • Full Marathon entries cost R130 (limited entries)

The annual Charity Entry sale will take place from 15 May with 150 half and 30 full marathon entries available until they are sold out. The designated charities this year are Vermont Old Age Home, Loerihof Old Age Home and Knysna Epilepsy. The proceeds from the sale of Charity Entries will be divided between these charities during a highly anticipated charity handover. Charity Entries will include a R500 donation to the designated event charities. Visit the Knysna Marathon Club website for more information www.knysnamarathonclub.com.

This year you can also expect the festival’s classic events such as the ever-popular road and mountain bike races in the Momentum Weekend Argus Cycle Tour, the Knysna Wine Festival and Night Market, mid-week signature events such as the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Flavours of Knysna presented by Tabasco, Seafood Wednesday, the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Chuckle (where comedy takes centre stage) and the Local Design and Food Market.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to explore Knysna with renewed curiosity.

For the full programme and details about the event line-up, as well as registration and ticket costs, visit http://www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za/ or follow the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival on Twitter @OysterFestival or on Facebook/KnysnaOysterFestival for daily updates.

Source: Press release from Pressportal

Dune Ridge Country House celebrates fourth anniversary

Dune Ridge turns four

Dune Ridge Country House is celebrating its fourth year since opening its doors way back in 2012 and to celebrate put to has a calendar of great Gourmet Dinners starting from Friday and running each month through to October.

Renowned for its wines, Dune Ridge holds a Diners Club Platinum Award for its outstanding wine collection, will, in partnership with NLR Wines, be presenting a food and wine pairing this coming Friday with winemaker Clayton Reabow presenting Moreson Estate wines. On June 29, winemaker Lourens van der Westhuizen visits Dune Ridge with a selection of Arendsig Wines followed in July when Anthony de Jager brings some of the Fairview collection. This is followed in August with Simon Smith from Louisvale presenting the wines with the final event on 7 October featuring Kevin Grant from Ataraxia.

But Dune Ridge is not only about wine and their magnificent cuisine for in the short time they have been operating they have already been finalist and winner of the prestigious Lilizela Tourism award winning the Provincial award in their very first year and almost every year since. Not only does Dune Ridge offer outstanding accommodation but offers guests an array of activities from star gazing, frog safaris and a several trails have been extended taking hikers deeper into the surrounding dune system.

Dune Ridge also hosts wonderful events and is the first choice for the Open your Eyes fund raising talks where they provide not only a superb meeting venue but put on a wonderful spread of sweet and savoury treats after each event much to the delight of those attending these talks. Recently they also host what one hopes will become a regular St Francis event when the presented a Classical music soiree.

Congratulations to Sarah Jane Swanepoel and her team for a top class facility that St Francis can be proud of.

To book for the Friday night food and wine pairing or to take advantage of the winter accommodation special where you pay for two nights but get to stay for three, call +27 42 294 1560 or eMail reservations@duneridgestfrancis.co.za

Dune Ridge Gourmet Calendar

Flawed Thyspunt Impact Rating Criteria (IRCs)

Thyspunt Environmental Report “fatally flawed” Continued

Flawed Thyspunt Impact Rating Criteria (IRCs)

These are the process by which the significance of an impact can be determined. They are crucial to decision-making.  They were drafted by environmental consultants Gibb, who were appointed and have been paid by Eskom. They have been a point of contention for the past eight years.

The first set of criteria was criticised strongly by the Thyspunt Alliance on the grounds that the requirements were such that it was impossible to identify a fatal flaw. The peer group monitor found them incomprehensible, leading to the conclusion that none of the sites were suitable. A revised set was published in the 2011 Revised Draft, which contained some improvements, but, in the view of the Alliance was still unacceptable. The key issue was “Intensity”. Unless a high rating was awarded for intensity, it remained impossible to have a fatal flaw. The problem with this was that to justify a high rating, both the biophysical (natural) environment had to be destroyed and social, cultural and other factors had to be substantially affected. The complaint was that it was quite possible that one of these was true, whereas the other might be less so; and that in any case, no specialist, being a specialist, was competent to express a view on both groups.

A response to this was only received in September, 2015 (four years later!), in which  the Environmental Impact Assessor (EAP) , the person running the EIA on behalf of consultants Gibb, conceded that it was not necessary for both sets of criteria to have a high rating, and that intensity could be rated high if either set was high.

This was a fundamental change, but the problem was that none of the specialists’ reports had been done on that basis. They all needed to be reviewed to determine whether the final significance rating would have been different in terms of the EAP’s interpretation. To have such a major correction at this stage in the EIA process is not acceptable.

The Alliance regards this deficiency in the Impact Rating Criteria as a fatal flaw. It could affect all 250 odd identified impacts.

Article by Hilton Thorpe, on behalf of the St Francis Kromme Trust, the St Francis Bay  Residents’ Association and the Thyspunt Alliance