With the deadline for public comments for the Wild Coast Toll road looming on 22 January, Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), has condemned the new EIA as ‘still saddled with dealing with the problems of an extensive infrastructure proposal that was developed and promulgated in a manner that was anything but objective and independent’.
In its comment on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), SWC argues that the foundations of the proposal are fundamentally flawed because the SANRAL preferred route was developed as an isolated and unsolicited bid by a consortium of private bidding companies whose primary motivation was profit, rather than arising out of an integrated and comprehensive regional development plan. As the basic premises of the proposal remain unchanged, many of the fundamental concerns that were raised by the public in 2003 have still not been addressed.
SWC lists numerous public and legal concerns that were raised in the 2004 Appeal Review which the new EIA has failed to address. These include unrealistic mitigation measures given the current capacity of local government structures in the Eastern Cape Province; that by excluding the tolling process from the EIA a bias is created in socio-economic impact assessments and that it is still not certain that tolls will be affordable for poor communities, that the need for a Toll road and for a route through the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism (an internationally recognized ‘hotspot’ of plant endemism) are still not adequately justified, that the precautionary principle has not been applied, and that public participation processes are still not in compliance of NEMA.
The Appeal Review was commissioned in 2004 by the new Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Minister van Schalkwyk, in response to the large number of public appeals petitioning against the Record of Decision (ROD) made in December 2003 which had approved the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Environmental Impact Assessment of 2003.
The SWC EIA commentary states that the EIA is ‘rank with double standards’.
Posted on January 14th, 2009 (www.swc.org.za)