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Thursday Sep 13, 2012

Soccer club pulls out of Rietvlei property development

While local environmental groups are petitioning the Tshwane Metro Council to prevent any development in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Premier Soccer League club SuperSport United says it is no longer interested in building a high performance centre on the site.

An entrance to the Rietvlei Nature Reserve where SuperSport United were planning to build a high performance centre.

In May the council granted permission for the development of the centre on a section of the reserve, triggering an outcry and threats of legal action if the plan went ahead.

But Clinton van der Berg, marketing manager for SuperSport United, said the club was no longer considering the site: "I cannot speak on behalf of council, but what I can confirm is that Rietvlei was looked at. We are scouting around for other locations, but there is no great urgency."

Chairman of Friends of Rietvlei, Kobus Engelbrecht, who submitted a petition with the support of the Friends of Doringkloof and the Wetlands Society of SA to the council in July, said they were unsure what was happening.

He said they had heard on the SABC programme 50/50 this week that the club was no longer interested: "SuperSport United said it was not planning on building there, while the council said it had passed the application."

He said they had still not had any response to their petition.

Spokesman for the Tshwane Metro, Phalane Motale, said the municipality had received an application from SuperSport for the alienation of a portion of the Rietvlei Nature Reserve which was granted at the end of May.

He said a public participation process - that will allow members of the public to have their say on the matter - was currently active.

"The report (on the public participation process) will thereafter either serve before council or be subject to Land Alienation Policy and the supply-chain management," said Motale

Asked to clarify the conflicting statements from the council and the club, Motale said: "We are not in a position to engage in a dialogue with Supersport via the media regarding the matter."

Engelbrecht said yesterday he had not heard anything about the public participation process and had not seen it being advertised anywhere.

"It is sad that we get zero communication from the council," he said.

The 110ha section of the reserve which has apparently been earmarked for development, has been categorised a Class 1 Ridge, according to a senior conservation official, which means that less than five percent of the land has ever been disturbed.

"Tshwane is the only city in the world with a nature reserve within the city borders of 4 000 hectares with game such as rhinos, cheetahs, lions and various buck such as eland, blesbok and springbok," said Engelbrecht.

Rietvlei Dam, which supplies the municipality with 41 million litres of water daily, is also a popular recreation site for fishermen and watersports enthusiasts.

Pretoria News

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