INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Holistic Environmental Services (HES) Cc was appointed by Crater slide (PTY) Ltd to submit the application to rectify the unlawful commencement of listed activities in terms of section 24G of the National Environmental Management Act,
(Act 107 of 1998) on portion 71 of the farm kopjeskraal 517-IQ in the Vredefort Dome Area, Tlokwe Local Municipality, North-West Province. The applicant commenced with earthworks and purchased the structures required to erect the 42 m high mast in January 2010. The section 24G application was submitted to the Department Environmental Affairs (DEA) in May 2010.
The Department responded by requesting the applicant to cease with the illegal activity and provide them with additional information (e.g. Visual Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and Public Consultation) to enable them to make an informed decision regarding the proposed activity.
The site is situated approximately 12km north-west of Parys on Portion 71 of the farm kopjeskraal 517-IQ within the jurisdiction of the Thlokwe Local Municipality, North-West Province.
The proposed development entails the establishment of the following activities on the said property: The Zip-line will be 2050m in length, measured from point A to D. The height of the tower (mast) at point D is 42 m, consisting of 14 segments of 3 m each
Alternative designs and locations has been identified and investigated. The possibility of limiting the mast to a height of 15 m, which do not require a EIA to be conducted and authorized by DEA, was also investigated. This option is currently deemed unfeasible, because of the significant safety risk that it poses to the potential clients.
The proposed development requires a BA to be conducted in terms of the Environmental impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (Government Notice No. R385),Chapter 5 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998). Environmental authorization needs to be granted by the relevant environmental authority, before any development may take place.
The act provides a list of activities in the EIA regulations (Government Notice No. R386 and R387)which require environmental authorization before they may commence. The following activities will be activated by the proposed development in terms of Government Notice No. R386: no. 14: "The construction of masts of any material or type of any height, including those used for telecommunication, broadcasting and radio transmission, but excluding - (a) masts of 15 metres and lower exclusively used (i) by radio amateurs; or (ii) for lighting purposes (b) flag poles; and (c) lighting conductor poles. "Crater Slide (Pty) Ltd illegally commenced with the activities in January 2010 and was therefore required to submit an application in terms of Section 24G of the NEMA Amended Act, (Act 8 of 2004). The aim is to ensure that the project will be environmentally acceptable and integrated into the surrounding environment in a sustainable manner. Other relevant legislation includes the following:
» Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (Act 45 of 1965) with subsequent amendments and Regulations; » Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act 43 of 1983);
» National Water Act, (Act 36 of 1998);
» Occupational Health and Safety (Act 85 of 1993);
» Protected Areas Act (Act 57 of 2003).
ENVIRONMENTAL STATUS QUO
The site forms part of the Grassland Biome. The vegetation according to Acocks, 1975, and Bredenkamp and Van Rooyen, 1996, is Rocky Highveld Grassland. The northern and central section of the property is still relatively undisturbed, with internal gravel roads and a few building structures mostly used for residential and tourism purposes. The natural vegetation along the southern section of the property has been altered by agricultural activities, this is also the section of the property were the 42 m high mast will be located
The site falls withine the summer rainfall region. The mean annual precipitaion is +/ 550mm, while the mean monthly maximum and minimum temperatures for the area are 35 C (July), respectively.
The regional topographical setting of the study area is classified as Parallel Hills. The project area itself drapes from the relatively sharp crest of a prominent hill in the north onto the relatively flat plains in the south. The lowest point is located in the south-eastern corner of the property at an elevation of approximately 1 375m above mean sea level (mamsl), with the highest point occurring in the north at an elevation of approximately 1 650mamsl.
The study area is located within the quaternary drainage region C23C, situated within the Upper Vaal Catchment Management area. The property drains mainly by means of surface run-off (i.e.: sheetwash) with surface water flowing towards the non-perennial streams traversing the north, central and southern sections of the property.
These streams form tributaries of the regionally important, perennial Vaal RIver that occurs to the south of the property.
It must be noted that stream flow along these stream generally occurs only during and directly after heavy precipitation events, and may continue for a short period directly after a particularly good rainy season. An old dam is located along the central section of the property.
The project area is situated within the core area of the Vredefort Dome Management Area, which is currently in the process of being proclaimed as a World Heritage Site by the South African Government. The property is currently used for tourism activities (i.e. quad biking) and environmental education programmes. The surrounding farms are for agriculture, governmental, tourism and residental purposes.
Possible Environmental Impacts:
The following preliminary significant environmental issues have been identified and will be investigated during the EIA process:
» Surface and groundwater pollution, especially the effect of on site sanitation systems on the surface and subsurface water regimes;
» Noise and Dust generation;
» Visual Impact and Possible Loss of Sense of Place;
» Safety and Security.
The pricess involves the undertaking of specialist investigations (Visual Impact Assessment and Civil Engineering) to determine the existing environmental conditions.
The studies will assess the significance of the impact of the projest on the environment. The results from the specialist studies will be included in the draft EIA Report, which will be made available to all registered (I&AP's).
All interested and affected parties (I&AP's) are invited to participate in the public participation process. It affords all I&AP's with an opportunity to raise possible environmental, economic and social concerns in relation to the proposed project. Notices will be placed on site, as well as the "Gazette" and the "Potchefstroom Herald" to inform people about the project and request them to register as interested and affected parties (I&AP's). All the adjoining landowners and all the relevant local organisations and relevant authorities will receive written notification.
Holistic Environmental Services (HES)
Mr Bennie Pretorius
Tel: (015) 298 8035
Cell: 082 885 3546
Fax: 086 538 9453
Mail: Suit no. 26; Private ag x9687; Polokwane; 0699