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Thursday Nov 28, 2013

Plett harbour report raises concerns

Several concerns expressed by Plettenberg Bay residents about the town's proposed small boat harbour are echoed in the final scoping report on the development, which was released to the public this week.

A ruckus around the R4-billion project occurred since it was first announced 15 years ago, with some residents arguing that details of the development plan were vague, that it could potentially spoil the character of Plettenberg Bay's main beach and result in environmental damage.

The final scoping report says as a result of the development there could be a reduction in diversity of estuarine biota like steenbras. In addition, it suggests water could become contaminated by fuel, oil and concrete during development.

Potential noise pollution was another factor that could arise over the four-year period envisaged for the construction of the development.

As a result, the Port Elizabethbased CEN IEM Unit, on behalf of the developers, said speciality studies would now be done in the environmental impact report. This would include focusing on services, wetlands and estuaries, sediment dynamics, traffic heritage and archaeological and social, economic and visual impact assessments.

Earlier this year angry residents formed a giant human 'No' sign on Central Beach to protest against the proposal.

The development, being overseen by Western Cape Marina Investments, is envisaged to occur in and around the Piesang River mouth and Central Beach, and will cover 87 000m2 and have 2 148 parking bays.

The proposal also moots eight residential buildings ranging in height from three to seven floors, giant penthouses, 1 343m2 of offices and commercial space, a 110-room five-star hotel of some 6 600m2, 17 mansions along Central Beach, 8 700m2 of retail space, a plaza and yacht club, provision for light industry, plus the 2 148 parking bays.

'The response about the proposed development has been overwhelming, both for and against it,' said CEN's Mike Cohen.

He said opposition came primarily from the more affluent residents while support came from disadvantaged communities who saw the project for its job creation potential.

The project is envisaged to create some 960 jobs (460 direct) for each year of construction.

These jobs would be allocated to members of previously disadvantaged local communities.

While interested parties had until January 17 to comment on the report, the Save Plett Alliance and Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum, groups opposed to the development, argued the report merely showed the developer was determined to go ahead with plans.

The forum is working with local Plettenberg Bay lawyer Elbie Burger and the local ratepayers with Cape Town law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenberg to protest against the project.

Basil van Rooyen, a representative of both groups, said the bodies were attempting to have the comment period extended as Plettenberg Bay's festive season was already under way and time frames were tight.

Cape Times


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