Alliance to take on developers
THE community of South Durban will go head-to-head with the Economic Development Department and the developers of a logistics park at the old Clairwood Racecourse in a bid to halt the R3.5 billion construction.
Court action brought by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance is set down for argument in the Durban High Court today. They will be represented by the Legal Resource Centre.
There has been a tussle between residents of Clairwood, Merebank, Wentworth and the Bluff since the racecourse was sold by Gold Circle for R430 million in 2012.
Developers Fortress Income Fund plan to give the Clairwood Logistics Park 350 000m² of warehouse space.
Construction started after the go-ahead was given by MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu in January last year. This is what the alliance is challenging.
The Legal Resource Centre yesterday said it would argue that “the MEC failed to properly assess and apply his mind to the cumulative impacts of the proposed development of the Clairwood Racecourse on the air quality, health and well-being of the local Clairwood community.
“The MEC failed to apply his mind to the principle of environmental justice for the surrounding communities.”
In its own statement, the alliance alleged that the department failed to comply with conditions prescribed by the empowering legislation.
This included the findings and recommendations of two major health studies relating to air quality in the South Durban area.
The alliance said a proper description of the affected communities – 20 000 households – was not contained in the environmental impact assessment reports.
The air quality impact assessment report used did not comply with the mandatory conditions for a specialist report, and the department and MEC failed to apply the principle of environmental justice, the alliance said.
“This court case highlights the challenges facing the communities since the development commenced, which include the loss of the last green lung in the area, pollution hazards, increase in 2 000 heavy vehicles in the area, loss of recreational space and a decrease in the biodiversity currently present within the Clairwood Racecourse,” it said.
Mark Stevens, Fortress’s managing director and chief executive, could not be reached for comment as he was away at a conference, but the company’s legal representative was on his way to Durban from its Joburg offices to be in court today.
Department spokesperson Bongani Tembe confirmed that the matter was before the courts but would not comment any further, saying the matter was sub-judice.