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7966
South Africa

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The unlawful clearance of indigenous vegetation and expansion of an airport by the Western Cape Microlight Club at Morningstar Airfield

THE RECTIFICATION OF UNLAWFUL COMMENCEMENT OF LISTED ACTIVITIES: THE UNLAWFUL CLEARANCE OF INDIGENOUS VEGETATION AND EXPANSION OF AN AIRPORT BY THE WESTERN CAPE MICROLIGHT CLUB AT MORNINGSTAR AIRFIELD, FARM VISSERSHOK OUTSPAN, CAPE FARM NO. 153, VISSERSHOK, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE. NOTIFICATION OF AVAILABILITY OF THE FINAL S24G EIA REPORT 

(DEA&DP Ref No: 14/2/1/1/A1/41/0026/16)

In 1993 a lease agreement between the Western Cape Microlight Club (WCMC) and City of Cape Town was signed for the WCMC to occupy a portion of land on Cape Farm No. 153.The lease agreement contained a rough sketch of the area to be occupied. To the knowledge of the WCMC, no survey of the lease area occupied was conducted at that time and the WCMC operated under the assumption that it should keep as far as possible within the leased area (which proved difficult in the absence of survey co-ordinates).

With the renewal of the lease around 2000, a hand-drawn sketch, without dimensions, was affixed to the lease. This sketch differed in shape to the original 1993 drawing. When this was queried by the Chairman, he was told that the area was quite irrelevant as the whole area had been earmarked for the Club’s activities. Then in 2006 a new lease was signed and the same diagram was attached and the lease area was defined as 22ha. At no time did the City survey and peg out the area to be leased nor did it provide survey co-ordinates for the leased area to be occupied. Thus once again the WCMC operated under the assumption that it should not exceed 22ha of occupied area.

In or about February 2014, in the context of the WCMC seeking a new long term lease of the land that it currently occupies, comment was received from the City of Cape Town’s Environmental and Heritage Resource Management Department (EHRM). EHRM objected to the lease renewal application on the grounds that a portion of Cape Farm 153 falls within a Biodiversity Network that supports Cape Flats Sand Fynbos listed as a critical endangered vegetation type. It was further alleged by EHRM that the WCMC had “systematically” removed Cape Flats Sand Fynbos since June 2008.

Following further discussions with both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP), the WCMC surveyed the current area occupied at its own cost. A comparison of the currently occupied area, against the area defined within the original lease agreement (to as high a degree of accuracy as is possible in the circumstances), reveals that the currently occupied area does not exceed the 22ha specified within the original lease agreement but the shape of the original rough hand drawn sketched area differs somewhat to that of the currently occupied area (Refer to Appendix B for an aerial image marked up with the respective areas). Since the 1993 lease agreement and establishment of the airfield on the site pre-dates the first Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations that came into effect on 5 September 1997, all development undertaken within the footprint of the original lease agreement is therefore lawful and did not require an Environmental Authorisation. Any infrastructure that was constructed outside of the originally authorised area (i.e areas of the currently occupied footprint, that fall outside of the poorly defined originally authorised footprint), after 05 September 1997, would have required an Environmental Authorisation prior to construction. The WCMC intends to rectify the unlawfully commenced activities and proposes to complete further hangar construction within the currently cleared and occupied area that falls outside of the originally specified lease area, via a National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (Act 107 of 1998) Section 24G process. The scope of this NEMA S24G Application is therefore limited to only those areas of the currently occupied site that fall outside the boundaries of the original lease area.

Holland and Associates Environmental Consultants have been appointed by the WCMC to assist in fulfilling the legally required environmental process for the project. The Final S24G EIA Report has been made available to the public for a 30 day comment period, and is downloadable via the link below.

Should you have any comments, issues or concerns regarding the proposed project or the findings of the Final S24G EIA Report or simply want to register as an I&AP, please provide your comments in writing to Ross Holland by email, fax or post, on or before 31 August 2017. Comments are to be submitted in writing via post, e-mail or fax to Mr Ross Holland of Holland & Associates Environmental Consultants (Fax: 086 653 1765, email: ross@hollandandassociates.net or post: PO Box 31108, Tokai, 7966).