1 Cape Environmental Assessment Practitioners(Pty) Ltd Reg. No. 2008/004627/07 Telephone: (044) Facsimile: (044) Progress Street, George Web: PO Box 2070, George, 6530 BACKGROUND INFORMATION DOCUMENT (BID) SECTION 24G RECTIFICATION PROCESS Masons Rust & Uitvlug Roads Portion 4 of Farm 32 Masons Rust & Farm 42 Uitvlug, Oudtshoorn Introduction Early in 2014, S&J Investment Trust (owner of the property) carried out the following activities on Portion 4 of Farm 32 Masons Rust and Farm 42 Uitvlug, Oudtshoorn district, without obtaining the prior environmental authorisation to do so: 1) Maintenance of existing stream crossing (activities inside a watercourse) on Portion 4/32 There are two (2) minor drainage lines on Portion 4/32 which, due to poor management from the previous owner have become degraded and eroded. The owner carried out maintenance/rehabilitation activities at one of the stream crossing after floods damaged the road using sand bags to restore access to his farm. No activities was carried out at the second stream crossing, however rehabilitation/repair of this crossing is also intended as it has suffered similar flood and erosion damages over time. 2) Construction of a section of road on Portion 4/32 The owner started construction of a new section of road on Portion 4/32 in order to access parts of his property where there are not alternative access routes. This comprised the removal of indigenous vegetation. Approximately 830m of road was constructed before construction was stopped upon realisation that prior authorisation is required 3) Construction of new sections of road on Farm 42 Uitvlug The diverted two (2) sections of an existing track (leading to an existing trig beacon on top of the mountain) on Farm 42 in order to improve condition of the road as well as safety of the road. This resulted in July 2015 the clearance of indigenous vegetation. There are two (2) watercourse crossings on this route leading to the trig beacon, one located along the existing track and the other located along a section of the diverted track. The owner wishes to formalise both these stream crossings in order to protect the road from potential erosion and any future degradation Summary The activities described above comprised the removal of more than 300m 2 of indigenous vegetation and the movement of more than 5m 3 inside a watercourse and is considered unlawful in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) because the owner did not obtain prior environmental authorisation. The owner has since commence with a voluntarily rectification process in the form of a Section 24G Assessment process. Cape Environmental Assessment Practitioners (Cape EAPrac) was appointed as independent environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) to investigate the level and significance of the activities and to facilitate the Section 24G Rectification Application process. A Section 24G Application was subsequently submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP). The DEA&DP accepted the Application on 22 June 2015 and assigned the following DEA&DP reference number: 14/2/1/3/D7/9/0084/15. Description of the site & context The properties are situated south of the R328 and Swartberg Mountains between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert, Oudtshoorn District, Western Cape.
2 Portion 4 of Farm 32 Masons Rust is approximately 8km (straight line) east of the Cango Caves. Farm 42 Uitvlug borders Masons Rust on the south. The turnoff/access point to Farm 32 Masons Rust is ±2.2km south of the Matjiesrivier turnoff on the R328. The site is characterised by indigenous Fynbos vegetation namely Kango Limestone Renosterveld classified as Vulnerable ito ecosystem status and Kango Conglomerate Fynbos classified as Least Threatened (SANBI BGIS, 2014). Woody vegetation occurs along the stream crossings on Portion 4/32. Where new tracks were constructed (footprint) the site has been transformed from its natural state. Restoration of the main stream crossing on the other hand took place within an already transformed area (within the footprint of the original road). Figure 1: A section of the diverted/new track constructed by the owner. Botanical investigation Regalis Environmental Services was requested to investigate the botanical sensitivity of the vegetation of the affected area and to provide restoration recommendations. A site visit was conducted by the botanical specialist during March 2015 who, in summary, concluded the following: - The minor disturbances along the lower section of road on Uitvlug 42 do not require vegetation restoration as there is no major risk of soil erosion and loss of biodiversity is limited. - Erosion protection and vegetation restoration measures must however be taken along parts of the mountainous section of the road on Uitvlug 42. This will also remediate the visual impact of the works carried out. Engineering input SMEC South Africa (Pty) Ltd was appointed by the owner to provide measures for the control of soil erosion, preventing of further soil erosion and fixing watercourse crossings on both Masons Rust 4/32 and Uitvlug 42. The following control measures, amongst others, are provided: - Measures to prevent erosion across and along road surfaces i.e. water bars, broad-base dips and road slope. - Measures to secure sharp and steep turns in order to prevent tire rutting, loosening of gravel and erosion i.e. concrete strips. - Secure water overflow areas and stream crossings. What is the purpose of this document? The main purpose of this Background Information Document (BID) is to: Provide potential Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) with information regarding the activities; Describe the environmental process being undertaken; and Explain the way forward. Why is an Environmental Process necessary? Figure 2: The main drainage line crossing where the owner used sandbags in order to repair erosion/flood damage and stabilise the crossing to protect it against further damage. In order for the DEA&DP to consider the potential impact (positive/negative) associated with the (unlawful) activities associated with road construction and road maintenance on the properties, they must be supplied with activity specific information (i.e. botanical/engineering input) as well as comments from Interested & Affected Parties (I&APs) who may be affected by the activity.
3 The way to do this is by means of a Section 24G process which is prescribed in terms of the Environmental Regulations and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA 1998). The process involves a series of reports (templates provided by the DEA&DP) as well as opportunity for public participation and specialist input. The outcome of the S24G process will inform the DEA&DP decision on the Administrative Fine amount that will be issued to S&J Investment Trust, as well as future actions to be taken. What legislation applies? This environmental process is undertaken in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA, Act No.107 of 1998 as amended) and will be conducted according to the 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (promulgated December 2014) although the activities were conducted ito the 2010 Regulations. NEMA specifies various listed activities that require prior environmental authorisation. In events where such authorisation was not obtained prior to commencing with a listed activity such an activity is considered unlawful. In this instance the activities were carried early 2014 whilst the 2010 EIA Regulations were still in force and must be assessed according to the listed activities of the 2010 EIA Regulations, namely: Regulation 544: Activity 11: The construction of (xi) infrastructure or structures covering 50 square metres or more, where such construction occurs within a watercourse. Activity 19: The infilling or depositing of any material of more than 5 cubic metres into, or the dredging, excavation, removal or moving of soil, sand, shells, shell grit, pebbles or rock or more than 5 cubic metres from (i) a watercourse. Regulation 546: Activity 4: The construction of a road wider than 4 metres with a reserve less than 13.5 metres. Activity 12: The clearance of an area of 300 square metres or more of vegetation where 75% or more of the vegetative cover constitutes indigenous vegetation. Activity 16: The construction of (iv) infrastructure covering 10 square metres or more where such construction occurs within a watercourse. Activity 19: The lengthening of a road by more than 1 kilometre. Similarly listed activities in the 2014 EIA Regulations are: Regulation 983: Activity 12: The development of (xii) infrastructure or structures with a physical footprint of 100 square metres or more; where such development occurs (a) within a watercourse. Activity 19: The infilling or depositing of any material of more than 5m³ into, or the dredging, excavation, removal or moving of soil, sand, shells, shell grit, pebbles or rock or more than 5m³ from: (i) a watercourse. Regulation 985: Activity 12: The clearance of an area of 300 square metres or more of indigenous vegetation. Activity 14: The development of (xii) infrastructure or structures with a physical footprint of 10 square metres or more; where such development occurs (a) within a watercourse. Other relevant legislation pertaining to the National Water Act (NWA) for stream crossings, may also be applicable and must be dealt with by the Department of Water Affairs under NWA. Clarification will be obtained from Heritage Western Cape with regards to the construction of a road exceeding 300m in length. What process will be undertaken? The following steps must be undertaken as part of the S24G process: Submission of the Application Form to DEA&DP (Reference No. 14/2/1/3/D7/9/0084/15); Identifying key Interested and Affected Parties ( I&AP s ); Advertising a Call for Registration in a local newspapers with a registration period of 21-days (advertisement date: 17 July 2015); Make available the Background Information Document (BID) for wider distribution and to registered I&APs, briefly explaining the process and project (this document); Open and maintain a Registered Stakeholder database; Compilation and public availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and Draft Environmental Management Plan (EMP), highlighting issues/concerns as well as findings from the environmental process; Compilation of Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and Final EMP based on public comment for final I&AP review / comment.
4 Submit the FINAL EIR and EMP to DEA&DP for decision-making (authorisation with conditions, or refusal); After consideration of the reports the DEADP will issue the owner with an Administrative Fine which is payable prior to decision-making; Notification of registered I&APs and Stakeholders of Environmental Decision, and details of appeal process / period. Why and how should you get involved? Names and details of members of the public who respond to the legal advert (calling for I&APs to register) appearing in the Oudtshoorn Courant on 17 July 2015, will be captured on the project Stakeholder Register. All written comments provided will also be recorded. In the event that you (or any other party you may be aware of) have an interest in the process, or feel that you may be affected by the unlawful activities, you are invited to register as an I&AP for the environmental process (excluding if you are already registered). A vital part of the process is public consultation as it provides stakeholders with an opportunity to get a better understanding of the activity undertaken and provide input. In order to do so, I&APs who are yet to register must submit their full contact details to Cape EAPrac at the address provided at the end of this BID. Alternatives In terms of the NEMA legislation, alternatives must be considered during an environmental assessment. These may be site, activity, or technological alternatives. The No Go Alternative (no activities undertaken) must be considered as a baseline against which the impacts of any other Alternatives are measured. Stakeholders are requested to provide details of any reasonable and/or feasible Alternatives that they may be aware of. Application for Deviation & Exemption Cape EAPrac has applied for deviation from the following public participation regulations: R54(1)(a)(i&ii) fixing a notice board to the boundary fence of site, and alternative sites (notice board will be placed on boundary fence of Portion 4 of Farm 32 Masons Rust); R54(1)(b)(ii) giving notice to occupiers of the site, or alternative sites (no permanent occupiers of the site; no alternative sites). Way Forward I&APs receiving this document are invited to: Submit any comments they may have that may have bearing on the outcome of this environmental investigation; and Circulate this BID to any other party they know who may have an interest, or be affected by the unlawful activities; The draft and final EIR and draft EMP will be circulated to registered I&APs and/or parties who have submitted comment in response to this BID. Please quote the Department s Reference Number for this application, on all correspondence: 14/2/1/3/D7/9/0084/15. It must be noted that this S24G process ONLY considers the unlawful activities as described in this Background Information Document. No other activities, or unrelated issues/concerns will be considered, investigated or assessed as part of this S24G process. TO REGISTER AS AN I&AP, SEND YOUR REGISTRATION REQUEST, NAME & CONTACT DETAILS, AND ANY PRELIMINARY COMMENTS: Cape-EAPrac ATT: Wynand Loftus PO Box 2070 George 6530 Telephone: Fax: I&APs who have already registered need not register again.
6 SECTION 24G RECTIFICATION PROCESS Masons Rust & Uitvlug Roads Portion 4 of Farm 32 Masons Rust & Farm 42 Uitvlug, Oudtshoor REGISTRATION / INITIAL COMMENT SHEET on BID Should you have any preliminary comments and would like to be registered as an Interested and Affected Party ( I&AP ), please complete this form and return it to Cape EAPrac at P O Box 2070, George, Tel: , Fax: , Registration may also be done online at on the active project page. TITLE & NAME ORGANISATION / FARM / ERF POSTAL ADDRESS TEL NO. FAX NO. CELL NO. COMMENTS 1. List any key issues or concerns relating to the activity undertaken by S&J Investment Trust. 3. Describe your reason/motivation for participating in this environmental process (disclose any interest): 4. List any potential (reasonable and / or feasible) alternatives for the activity: 5. List interested & affected parties (I&APs) or Stakeholders that you feel should be registered (provide their full contact details (name, telephone, fax, and postal details) and who they represent in order that we may contact them):