Al­liance to take on de­vel­op­ers

The Mercury - - NEWS - Mer­cury Re­porter

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.

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