The Save Langebaan Lagoon Action Group submitted a letter of objection to the proposed Operation Phakisa aquaculture (fish and mussel farming) development, planned for Saldanha Bay and parts of Langebaan Lagoon. The letter was submitted on Friday 31 March.
The issues of the action group, consisting of 1 300 individuals, businesses and environmental specialists from the Langebaan community, are:
. The public participation process to date that they say was “poorly executed” in terms of the type of engagement and “inadequate information” for better participation.
. The lack of alternative sites to the current proposed sites for the farms.
. The “absence of a thorough investigation and assessment” of the socio-economic impacts on Langebaan (eg no comparative study done between the number of people currently employed in hospitality and watersports in Langebaan and the number of people likely to be employed on the farms).
. The visual impact assessment “failed to consider” the importance of the natural, unindustrialised lagoon vistas in attracting investment.
. They also have issues with the ecological impact assessment saying it has “significant gaps and flaws” with regard to the lack of enforceable monitoring standards, the carrying capacity of the lagoon, and the high number of mitigation actions needed to avoid serious ecological degradation.
SRK, appointed environmental consultants, have to submit a Basic Assessment Report, with all comments and objections to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (the applicant) and to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), who will decide whether or not to grant Environmental Authorisation to proceed with the development.
SRK may, after receiving comments update its report before submission to the DEA. If significant changes to the report are required by the DEA, SRK must resubmit the report, showing evidence of public participation.
The group awaits SRK’s decision on whether or not to request its comments on amendments or resubmission of the report. If authorisation is granted, the group has the right to appeal the decision.
The group plans to launch a nation-wide and international awareness campaign, and continue holding regular public meetings with all sectors of the Langebaan community.
The Letter of Objection can be requested by email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
(See also advert on page 19. Ed.)