End of gabion project in Sedge
The installation of gabion baskets along a 100m stretch on Myoli Beach in Sedgefield, which began on 14 March, has drawn the interest, surprise and dismay of many residents and interested parties in the area, according to Susan Campbell of the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association.
“In my opinion, the minister was wrong,” says Campbell, referring to a directive from the Minister of Environmental Affairs, who issued an emergency permit to allow the construction of gabion baskets in the days preceding the arrival of the excavator.
“We understand that there was an issue relating to the houses near the dunes, but the decision that this was urgent – and that gabion structures were the answer – is simply wrong. Residents strongly oppose the installation of unsightly gabions, there was no consultation with residents in the greater Sedgefield and Knysna area,” says Campbell. We are not happy said local authorities
“Residents in this area would’ve preferred a ‘soft structure’ on the beach, they could’ve used sandbags instead,” she says, “like they did at Buffalo Bay some years ago. Residents were compelled to use sandbags – why not the same for Sedgefield? We are not happy.”
According to SANParks regional spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba, they were against the installation of these gabion structures, and so was the municipality.
“It is for this reason that we approached authorities to have the construction paused. We were still looking at alternatives and we offered a different view, and thus we were shocked that the actual construction started without our approval. We’ve also escalated the matter with the Knysna municipality, ” she says, adding that in the coming weeks officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), will make their own assessments of the area to get a better idea of the challenges and address the matter.
“We were empathising with the concerns of residents and really want to find a solution, but as SANParks we also feel that gabion structures are not the answer. At present we are checking the information that was presented to the minister and consulting legal teams, because the property owners are also using lawyers,” says Mgwadlamba.
According to SANParks’ knowledge, she says, certain permits were not obtained, and thus the construction was paused and cannot go ahead.
“In the coming weeks and upon arrival of the officials from DEA, the matter will be addressed and we will inform residents of the way forward,” she says.
Beachgoers and Sedgefield residents were surprised to see an excavator on Myoli beach, where gabion baskets were in the process of being erected to safeguard homes, before the project was paused to find alternative solutions.