WILD COAST TOLL ROAD EIA PUBLIC PARTICIPATION FLAWED

Posted on November 10th, 2008 (http://www.swc.org.za/wild-coast-toll-road-eia-public-participation-flaw...)

Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) calls upon the government of South Africa to reject out of hand the latest attempt to gain support for the ill-conceived Wild Coast Toll Road.

Over three and a half years ago the previous EIA was turned down by the Minister of Environment Affairs because of “inappropriate links” between environmental consultants Bohlweki and the consortium of construction companies proposing the unsolicited bid for a high speed link between Durban and East London.

The EIA was met with a storm of protest from varied groupings, including KZN provincial government and the Ethkwini Municipality, taxi association, residents and environmental groups. Many felt that the road’s route pointed to the underlying rationale behind the road was to facilitate the transport of the products of the controversial Pondoland dune mining proposal by an Australian junior mining company.

This week, advertisements appeared calling for public comment on a new EIA. “Although we cannot yet comment on the Report as it is due to be published on November 9, we do strongly protest the manner in which the crucial Public Participation Process is being handled.”, said a SWC statement..

“Firstly, Interested and Affected Parties have not been informed, and the timing period for objections is just not acceptable, with the closing date for objections – January 9 next year – falling within the Christmas holiday period. This is not the first time such a devious tactic designed to stifle public comment has been employed”.

SWC is very much in favour of developing infrastructure on the Wild Coast, but this must be done in ways that benefit both local communities and their rich and varied heritage, both cultural and ecological.

Further comment will follow once those most affected have had a chance to study the report.

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