Current Issues

 

2013 Forum Involvement

Proposed Small Boat Harbour and Associated Development

The images above show the Central Beach and Piasang River Estuary area now and what it will look like after the development. This is a 3D graphic rendering done by an architectural firm in Johannesburg based on the plans of the developer and overlaid on real photographs of the area. It is clear this is not simply a quaint little harbour but a major urban development. The renderings are according to information available, but does not reflect any details such as styles of buildings – simply extent, positioning, etc.

For a brief and current update, please download the public awareness brochure released by the Save Plett Alliance in December (Save Plett Central Beach)

The Final scoping report was released, with very little changes made. Follow the link to the Executive Summery. Objections were due by the 17 January 2014 to the decision-making authority, which is the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (shireen.pullen@westerncape.gov.za). View the Forum's comments. 

The Forum fully supports the Save Plett Alliance (www.saveplett.com), initiated jointly by the Ratepayers’ Association and property owners in the affected area, formed to appose the development. A team from law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), appointed by the Save Plett Alliance and other stakeholders to protect their interests, suggested to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning that the entire proposal be rejected. View full ENS comments here.

The department has 45 days from submission to reject the proposal or to ask for more information.

The alliance urgently depends upon the financial support of all the residents and ratepayers in the Bitou community to prevent this development. To make a donation, please refer to the 'Save Plett Central Beach' link above for bank details.

 

The Plettenberg Bay community spelt out a decisive “NO” on Central Beach to the proposed small harbout development in the Piesang River Estuary. Photo: Christy Strever

 

Bitou Spacial Development Framework (BSDF)

We have continued to engage with the Bitou Municipality to ensure that environmentally sensitive areas are protected from development and an appropriate “Urban Edge” is created to avoid urban sprawl. The BSDF report has been finalised, but without further public participation. Follow the link tho the  Final BSDF to view the plan for your area and email us any comments you have by the 13th January or join us for discussions with the BM on the 14th January 2014.

 

Water

A proposal has recently been made for a dam to be built on a tributary of the Bitou River which, via a pipeline, would supply water to Knysna and Sedgefield.

This dam is to be filled by water pumped from the Keurbooms River, which is already under stress during periods of drought. We have insisted that a full and comprehensive Reserve Determination of water availability in the Keurbooms be made before this proposal is pursued. Follow the link to PBCEF comments regarding the preposed offstream storage dam.

In recent years the flow of the Keurbooms River has been greatly reduced by invasive vegetation along its course. We are now actively supporting a major alien clearing programme, which will be managed by Eden to Addo.

 

Waste Recycling


The Forum has obtained Local Economic Development (LED) funding for the support of “Food for Waste” programmes in the form of Win Win Swop Shops. The first shop has now  perated for 12 months in the Industrial Area and serves the Qolweni community.

The shop opens once a week and on an average day receives 1 000 kg of recyclable waste from the community, which is exchanged for food tokens and other useful items.

 

Bitou Power Line


The Final Basic Assessment Report was resleased in July 2013, for Eskom proposed erection of power lines along the N2 which would cross the Bitou River to a new substation on the east bank. We have requested Eskom to consider alternative routes (including underground) in order to minimize the risks to the many bird species that visit the Bitou wetland. Follow the link to view the PBCEF's objection to the proposed power line.

 

Anath Peninsula (between Keurbooms and Bitou rivers)


We actively support an NGO whose aim is to ensure that Anath is properly conserved and remains open to the public as an important area of biodiversity that should be used for recreational and educational purposes.

 

2012 Forum Involvement

 

Proposed Small Boat Harbour and Associated Development

Plett is currently being forced to respond to an inappropriate application to develop a “Small-Boat Harbour” in the Piesang Valley estuary, in combination with substantial (at least 87 000 square meters – the equivalent of 507 units) high-rise buildings varying from three to seven storeys on either side of the estuary and on both Central and Robberg Beach. The Environmental Impact Assessment process has commenced and the Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum (PBCEF) is participating in that process within its current abilities to try and prevent this patently unsustainable project from proceeding. For more information on this follow the link to the transcript of the Focus Group meeting as well as the Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum’s initial objection and a self-explanatory submission regarding various legal and other issues pertaining to the proposed small-boat harbour development. This legal document has been submitted to the Municipality and to the the Developer on 23 October 2012 obo the Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum.

As you will see from the submission, our investigation has uncovered many fundamental flaws in the processes followed to date. Following our meetings and discussions with consultants and the municipality, and our submission highlighting the legal flaws in procedures followed to date, we are still awaiting an official response from either party. In the meantime, the developers appear to be continuing with the Environmental Impact Assessment. The Forum has also prepared a brief report regarding activities to date in this regard as well as a outline of the EIA process in order to encourage you to participate in the process.

We are in great danger of losing “a jewel in our crown” and we urgently need to fight the despoilment of a magical location by incongruous development. We are not against an aesthetical upgrade of the existing facilities on Central Beach.

The PBCEF appreciates, however, that this application is of a particularly complex nature and that it will need to add specialist capacity in order to respond to the application effectively. It has been decided as a matter of urgency to raise substantial, additional funds of R750 000 to employ specialists which will include Environmental and Planning Lawyers, Advocates, Environmental Scientists, Coastal Engineers and Economic Feasibility experts.

We would greatly appreciate ANY donation towards this effort. Please note that your donation will be tax deductible and a receipt will be issued, upon request, for tax purposes. To make a donation please follow the link to our donation page.

Follow the link to Business Day Live Small Boat Harbour Article

 

2011 Forum Involvement

 

Jet Ski’s

The Forum is currently investigating prior research on the impact of jet ski’s on whales.  In addition, information is being sought on the protocols in place in other areas in this regard. 

 

Eskom Powerline

The Forum objected to the erection of power lines across the Bitou Wetland.  The application by Eskom is ongoing.

 

Qolweni Conservancy

The Qolweni Township together with the ORCA Foundation has established a Non Profit Organisation (NPO). The Qolweni Conservancy is an umbrella organization that will focus on environmental management and community upliftment.  The Qolweni Conservancy started operating in June 2011.

The Forum has agreed to assist and advise the conservancy in environmental as well as development matters. 

 

Relationship with Bitou Municipality

The Forum has renewed their relationship with the new municipal council and has arranged that a representative of the council should attend the Forum meetings each month. 

 

Sewerage Management/Maintenance

The Forum is concerned about sewerage spillages and maintenance of pumps which impact the Buffels River and, at times, other areas. 

 

Wadrift Off-stream Storage Dam

A Scoping Environmental Assessment was done for the proposed off-stream storage dam for the Municipality in the Uplands Region near Wittedrift. The Forum objected to this application as further information and research is required. The Forum is opposed to the location of the offstream dam and not the dam per se.

The environmental issues are as follows:

  • Interbasin transfer;
  • Most of the area is farmland, but there are some areas such as the kloofs that serve as ecological corridors;
  • The dam could affect the flow of the Bitou River into the wetland system.
  • There is still no comprehensive reserve determination for the Keurbooms River.  Flooding is required for the system and a constant flow for the estuary.
  • It is believed that the mean annual runoff is overstated and the runoff might be decreasing as well.

 

Environmental Legislation Workshop

The Forum is in the process of organizing an Information Workshop on Environmental Legislation which will take place in the new year. 

 

Kranshoek Light Industrial Park ROD

The Forum objected to the application during the Basic Assessment Process and again raised issues of concern in response to the applicant’s appeal.

The development entails the establishment of 43 erven for the operation of a small light industrial park on the Southern Part of Portion 10 of the Farm Kranshoek 432. It will include business zone II stands, an internal road network and associated service-infrastructure for water, sewage, electricity and storm water drainage. It was approved with conditions, including a reduction in the number of units. 

 

Gansevallei Hotel Development Application

The application is for a hotel development of 8 Villas and 70 hotel rooms (all together 102 rooms). The property is on a green belt along the estuary.   It is stated in the title deed that this section must remain a buffer zone. The Forum strongly objected to the development and is awaiting a reply. 

 

S24G of Pipeline, excavation and road in Bitou River

A Section 24G (retrospective application to rectify an illegal activity) process is taking place for the installation of a pipeline, the excavation of the Bitou River bed and the construction of an access road to the Bitou River. It is located on farm 221 portion 10 in Wittedrift. The Forum strongly objected to this application. 

 

Sanderlings Mooring Facilities Final BAR

Rocks were dumped in the Keurbooms River to prevent further erosion on the Sanderlings property.  This has in turn affected the adjacent property which is the only remaining property along that stretch that is still relatively pristine. A jetty has also been erected illegally.  The applicants have now applied for an S24G to legalize the illegal activities.    The Forum has commented on the Final BAR (Basic Assessment Report). Ideally, natural erosion should be allowed to occur but there are valuable assets along the river that prevent this. A site visit was held in September and further comments will be handed in by the Forum. 

 

Stormwater pipeline from “Market Square”

The Forum was under the impression that the application for the upgrade of the stormwater pipeline was only for restructuring of the existing structures. It was later learned that the pipes will come from the parking lot at Market Square. There is concern that the stormwater will carry pollutants, such as heavy metals from the tyres or oil that leaks from vehicles into the estuary. The Forum has requested that an EIA is conducted to investigate possible solutions such as oil traps etc. 

 

Integrated Waste Management Transfer Facility

Waste management in Plettenberg Bay has been a point of concern for several years.  The Forum believes that a ‘triple R’ (reduce, reuse, recycle) programme needs to be put in place to minimise waste. The existing dumpsite is 12 meters above what it has been designed for and an interim system to transport the waste to Mosselbay is being investigated. Mosselbay is the only town in this region with a suitable area for waste disposal from a geological perspective. As a result of this, recycling will not happen at the moment.  Recycling will be looked at as a future initiative to minimize transport to Mosselbay.

Knysna’s recycling and compaction plant cannot handle more waste than that which they have received during the Christmas period, therefore they will not be able to take Plett’s waste during that time.  Knysna is already geared for chipping and recycling, but their capacity is limited. All our waste will have to be compacted in Knysna before it can be taken to Mosselbay.

The Forum commented on the proposal and is awaiting response. 

 

Robberg Vlei

A boardwalk has been constructed across the Robberg vlei.  Creosote was used to treat the poles and the Forum objected to this.  This was investigated and construction was allowed to proceed.  The Forum is concerned about impacts on the vlei and has been monitoring the situation. 

 

Keurbooms Ptn 97 and 98 Farm 304

The applicants intend to construct a single resident dwelling on each of their properties.

The Forum commented on the application and objected to it based on the fact that the proposed dwellings fall within the 100m distance from the High Water Mark of the sea.  As such, this constitutes a listed activity in terms of NEMA and requires environmental authorization prior to construction.

Thank you for your support of our endeavours to protect the environment ... and YOU!!