Concerns about constructio
InnoWind (Pty) Ltd., the owners of Grahamstown’s wind farm have recently proposed an extension to the existing wind energy project with nine new turbines on the opposite side of Howison’s Poort to the existing installation. This came to light in a presentation recently made to the Makana Council by InnoWind’s Project Developer, Daluvuyo Ntsebeza. The proposal plans six turbines along the mountain ridge to the south of Featherstone Kloof, on the Southern Commonage, and three more on Glenthorpe Farm.
Key to the project is access to this mountain ridge, as it is surrounded on all sides except one by steep cliffs.
The only viable access route is via the 4km long gravel road leading to The Oldenburgia Conservancy off the N2, close to the Stone Crescent Hotel.
This is the historic wagon road that formerly connected Southwell and Salem to Grahamstown in the 19th Century. The road would require complete rebuilding, as it is both narrow and steep.
On Glenthorpe Farm the track that leads to the ridge top and the Southern Commonage would have to be remodelled into a major access road, with cuttings and wide curves to allow the transport of long and heavy equipment up the steep mountain side.
Sensitive and beautiful scenery
The project falls right in the centre of the Oldenburgia Conservancy, in some of the most sensitive and beautiful scenery of the Grahamstown district.
This area is currently also under threat from illegal cattle grazing, and poaching by people using snares.
In November 2015 the Conservancy initiated a process to obtain Protected Area status from The East Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) for the land, including the Featherstone Kloof part of the Southern Commonage, and this process is well under way.
This is an area of grassland fynbos with high endemicity (meaning that some plants are unique to this area), including several protected plant species. It is Grahamstown’s only pristine public area.
The proposed wind farm extension would straddle this area, reducing its value and attraction, and dominating Featherstone Kloof, Mountain Drive and several nearby farms.
Affected landowners would also experience marked reductions in their land values.
Viewed from Mountain Drive, the turbines would extend in a line dominating the southern flank of Featherstone Kloof, as far as the large forest that clings to the slopes at its eastern end above Glenstone and Balcraig farms.
The access road would bi- sect the hilltop slope, scarring the steeper sections with the necessary cuttings, in an area that is currently an undisturbed area of mountain grassland fynbos and king proteas, with many other rare plants such as ground orchids, ericas and tree ferns.
The Oldenburgia Hiking Trail, recently revamped at considerable time and expense over a three year period, would effectively cease to exist.
Right in the centre point of the proposed development, Rivendell Farm, currently one of the most pristine farms in the area, would be surround-
Viewed from Mountain Drive the opposing ridge would be dominated by six turbines.
Featherstone Kloof after the windfarm (photo graphically manipulated).
The scale of cuttings and the access road that would be required through the land.
Is this really the future we want for our commonage?