Political Intervention Needed To Speed Up Walmer Relocation Process

NOVEMBER 6, 2014

The Human Settlements Directorate of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says that the “urgent development” of Walmer Gqebera is “highly dependent on political intervention from other sources to expedite the environmental impact assessment (EIA)".

In a report to the Human Settlements Committee, the directorate says the de-densification of the areas “needs to start as a matter of urgency”.

It says the municipality believes environmental authorisation can be expedited for the land between the Walmer Country Club and Arlington Racecourse.

It says a Record of  Decision was issued following an EIA in April 2006 but has since lapsed.

It says a recent site visit with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and mapping exercise revealed that “most of the area was predominantly degraded through alien invasive vegetation”.

The report states that the department wanted a mapping exercise undertaken to identify any remaining forest on this land and on another that is closer to the Driftsands Wastewater Treatment Works.

The forest areas would “need to be accommodated in the site layouts and could remain as public open space area to facilitate their preservation”.

The site near the Driftsands WWTW has been identified as “the most feasible for the temporary transition site”.

The Department of  Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism has indicated however, that even if it is planned to use the area as a temporary transit area an EIA would be required “as the damage to the environment would be permanent”.

The department subsequently agreed to a downscaling of the environmental requirements, the report states, but adds that the Basic Assessment Process could now “take anything between 6 to 8 months”.

The directorate is now proposing other alternative sites as temporary location areas, one of which is the hydroponic site on Buffelsfontein Road.

The report says it is uncertain how this land is currently zoned.

If it is zoned as open space then an EIA will be required. metrominutes