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Monday Sep 16, 2013

Observatory's River Club remodels river bank without approval

A cease-work notice is due to be issued after the City of Cape Town was notified of a possible contravention of environmental protection legislation at the River Club on the Liesbeek River.

The River Club has trucked in and dumped soil along the Liesbeek River.

Observatory councillor and mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said he had been notified by residents of earthmoving activities being conducted by a bulldozer on the banks of the Liesbeek, near the River Club.

Friends of the Liesbeek secretary, Francine Becker, said they saw large Ross Demolition trucks dumping soil on the river banks. 'This activity continued over the weekend and up to 10 large trucks loaded with soil were observed driving into the River Club in the space of an hour. It seems the River Club, desperate to deal with flooding, has illegally dumped material in and along the Liesbeek.'

Becker said soil dumping made the river banks steeper and affected bird habitats. 'It also raises the river banks above the canal which could hold back the run-off from the parking area and the road.'

Becker said she spoke to a River Club representative, Nick Ferguson, who said it had been decided to cover the bank to make it 'neat and tidy'.

'He said he could not wait for authorisation as the soil was available and too expensive to truck in later. The dumped soil would be compacted mechanically and planted with grass.'
Becker said the area was a prime kingfisher breeding ground, a grey heron fishing area and a place where yellow-billed ducks roosted.

'The Observatory community cares greatly about this area and it is far better to work together to restore the banks. Going ahead as the River Club has done alienates people and does so much harm to the environment.'

Herron said the cease-work order would require respondents to stop all work and apply for the necessary approvals.

Repeated attempts by phone and email since last week to get comment from the River Club failed.

Cape Argus


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