A Pretoria regional court’s finding that an environmental consultant was guilty of providing incorrect or misleading information to the Department of Environmental Affairs in an Environmental Impact Assessment was a landmark ruling, according to University of Cape Town environmental law expert Jan Glazewski.
The faulty assessment led to the halting of construction on the Pan African Parliament buildings in Johannesburg when it was found it jeopardised a wetland.
“It is a landmark, I have never heard of anyone brought to book for this type of thing,” said Prof Glazewski, a member of the Cape Bar.
Prof Glazewski said environmental assessment, a profession only 20 years old in SA, had until recently been poorly regulated.
Magistrate EK Patterson found the consultant had shown “wilful disregard of the required standard of conduct” in that he had not appointed a wetland specialist to determine whether there was a wetland on the parliament’s building site.
The proposed site for a nuclear power station at Thyspunt is also situated on a wetland and is an important archaeological heritage site with ancient fish traps along the coast line.
Jeffreys Bay Tourism is planning day trips with a qualified guide to explore what is known as the cradle of modern mankind along the stretch of coast from Oyster bay to Jeffreys Bay.
Elza Van Lingin from the DA welcomed the court’s decision and said that the DA supported transparency. “Thyspunt is a sensitive issue and can have a lasting impact on the communities of St Francis bay as well as Jeffreys Bay. Due processes must be followed and experts in wetlands, the chokka industry as well as archaeological experts must have input into the Environmental Impact Studies”, said Van Lingin.