Water Affairs serves notice on wetland developer

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 May 2011

The Water Affairs department has given the developer of the Beach Club in Hout Bay 48 hours to explain why it should not issue a directive to stop all further in-filling of a wetland area, remove all the fill already dumped and levelled, and rehabilitate the site to its natural state.

The developer was given notice to stop all further in-filling in the wetland area in the Disa River estuary.

A notice to this effect was served yesterday on the development company, Really Useful Investments (Pty) Ltd, by “Blue Scorpion” Thando Stimela, a compliance, monitoring and enforcement official at the department’s regional head office in Bellville.

The notice, issued under the Water Act, is similar in intent to a notice the City of Cape Town served on the developer last month.

That notice, which alleged contraventions of the city’s stormwater management by-law, also ordered the developer to stop all further in-filling in the disputed wetland area in the Disa River estuary, and required it to remove all fill already placed within the 1:100-year flood plain.

Conservationists have reported that the city’s order is being ignored, and that substantial amounts of new fill have been trucked into the site since last week, with a front-end loader being used to level it.

At the end of March the Hout Bay & Llandudno Environment Conservation Group made an unsuccessful bid for an urgent interdict in the Western Cape High Court to stop the developer’s earthmoving operation, which includes in-filling of part of the wetlands linked to the estuary.

But the company said in its defence that no wetlands were being in-filled, and that it was working legally in terms of a construction environmental management plan that had been approved by provincial environmental authorities.

According to an agreement made an order of court, the developer undertook not to push any fill material on any part of its property that is shown on the approved development plan of 1994 as being below the 1:50-year flood level.

However, the conservation group says it belatedly discovered that the 1:50-year flood level indicated on the development plan is not the natural 1:50-year flood level, which it believes runs through the middle of the property. It says it is the floodline for the post-infilled development.

It has applied for funding from the non-profit Centre for Environmental Rights to launch a second high court application in an attempt to rectify the matter.

Len Swimmer, chairman of the Residents Association of Hout Bay, one of the members of the conservation group, said they expected to hear by next Tuesday whether they would get the funding.

Contacted twice yesterday for comment, development company director Don Hemphill said on both occasions he was busy in a meeting, and did not return the calls later as promised.

Source: iol

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