Cape Town - The appeal of the Wild Coast of South Africa is very often its remote, rural charm. However, boosting a growing economy through infrastructure is necessary and a precarious balancing act - as the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) is all too aware.
The construction of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR), with vital connectivity and improved road systems always welcome, now has an independent environmental monitoring watchdog to ensure minimal environmental impact during its construction process.
The announcement was made following the committee’s inaugural meeting in Port Edward last week, with the department of environmental affairs making the committee a specific approval requirement for the N2WCTR.
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“The route has been planned to minimize the impact on environmentally sensitive biomes and existing human communities and settlements, and in addition to the Environmental Monitoring Plan, a number of measures have been put in place to ensure this, and where possible to enhance positive environmental outcomes," says SANRAL Environmental Manager Mpati Makoa.
She says the monitoring relates specifically to compliance and the need for haul roads to construction sites and the construction of the two mega-bridges progressing - with measures including ‘Search and Rescue’ of rare, endangered and endemic species and species of conservation value.
These are expected to be translocated to suitable nurseries with the aim to both to assist with the rehabilitation of disturbed areas after construction and to re-establish in an existing conservation area where applicable.
Makoa says, “The committee will perform watchdog, monitoring and auditing functions to ensure compliance with specific conditions of the environmental authorisation and the requirements of the approved environmental management programme (EMP) for the N2WCTR, as well as conditions of all other environmental permits issued for the project."
The environmental monitoring committee for the N2WCTR is made up of South African conservation and wildlife organisations, environmental subject matter experts, and various government departments and/or state entities, local municipalities and representatives of the Traditional Authorities of Mpondoland.
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The committee says it will also provide a forum for discussing and resolving environmental issues and concerns, while promote participation of stakeholders in environmental monitoring.
“The establishment of the environmental monitoring committee is another level of assurance to concerned groups or individuals that the environment of the Wild Coast is one of our key priorities,” says Makoa.
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