Strong opposition to proposed Zwavelpoort development Print E-mail
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Monday, 26 September 2016 19:22
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Objections to the proposed new high-density development in Zwavelpoort are streaming in. Friends of the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve and the Zwavelpoort Home Owners Association (ZHOA) are two of the organisations which submitted concerns about this development on behalf of their members.

In July we reported that a new residential development, Bronberg X28, is planned on portion 58 (a portion of portion two) in Achilles Street, near the T-Junction with Saal Street. The property extends to the slopes and ridge of the Bronberg between Zwavelpoort and Olympus.

Michele van der Westhuizen, from Friends of the Bronberg, said that there are golden moles all over this property, yet they don’t feature in the draft environmental impact assessment report submitted to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) by Leap’s dr Gwen Theron.

The report states that no sensitive habitat or plant and animal species were found on the site.

According to the report, the site consists of existing residential houses and transformed planted pastures as well as degraded foot and mid-slopes, which have limited conservation or biodiversity value.

The sensitive ridge on portion 58, Zwavelpoort
Photo’s: ZHOA

The ZHOA officially questioned the scientific correctness of statements made in the report. The association also stated that there is non-compliance to the relevant environmental impact assessment’s regulations and that the findings in the specialist studies were not integrated into the draft basic assessment report.

In a comment report to Dr Gwen Theron, Peter Teurlings, who has been mandated to comment on behalf of the ZHOA, writes that the requirements of the Gauteng Draft Ridges Policy have not been considered in sufficient detail and that specialist studies should have been undertaken for a class two ridge.
The report states that it is shocking to note that Juliana’s golden mole, the second most endangered mammal in the whole of South Africa, is not included in the list of endangered mammals provided in the ecological assessment.

Peter submitted photographic and video evidence of golden mole activity on the northern part of portion 58 as well as site photographs that show the sensitive areas on the property, such as the ridge.

Evidence was also produced that numerous plant and animal species, some of which are critically endangered or vulnerable, were found on the site.

According to Peter the explanation provided as to why the entire site is degraded is subjective and written in such a way as to convince the GDARD officials to approve the application. The largest part of the ridge is intact.

Evidence of Juliana’s golden mole activity in the northern part of portion 58

Peter writes that the lack of proper infrastructure in the Zwavelpoort area, such as water, sanitation, storm water, refuse disposal, power supply and road systems, does not support high-density residential development.

According to Peter, the individual specialist studies did not include any cumulative impact assessment. Neither did they take into account the impact of increased traffic on local roads, such as Achilles Road to the intersection with Hans Strijdom (Solomon Mahlangu) Road and the intersection of De Villebois Mareuil Road and Atterbury Road; the impact on groundwater in the Zwavelpoort area; and the impact of the proposed widening of Achilles Road on existing properties.

Friends of the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve also handed in a long list of concerns about the proposed development. According to Louise Kritzinger from the Friends, the metro municipality has allowed excessive development in the areas south of the Bronberg and its infrastructure is overburdened.

Brittle wood (lekkerbreek), Nuxiacongesta, which is potentially over 100 years old

Its existing sewerage connection cannot be used, there is no viable solution and, in addition to other issues, it envisages having to resort to measures such as pumping sewerage over the Bronberg.

In relation to the development of a 100ML water reservoir on the Bronberg to cater for the water needs of Pretoria east amongst other areas, it has transpired that the reservoir is planned to discharge its run-off over the Bronberg.

“There is accordingly reason to suspect that there are substantial defects in the town and density planning for the area,” Louise writes. In any revised report, the full details of the availability of sewerage and water must be disclosed.

Louise comments that much of Leap’s argument for the development is based on the K54 and PWV roads. These roads have yet to undergo environmental impact assessments and there is no environmental authorisation for them. They have not been lawfully approved, much less constructed and it is especially misleading to include them in the location map in the draft report.

Widening Achilles Road will have a significant impact on the walls of properties

According to Louise, dense residential housing leaves no habitat for smaller animals and invertebrates, which currently occupy the space.

She writes that when large areas are tarred, paved or under roofing, it leads to heavy storm water collection. When there is little vegetation to absorb the storm water into the ground, it drains as runoff, carrying pollutants, particularly motor oils, into wetlands and streams. A high-density residential development with a large number of cars generates a lot of motor oil drops and other automotive pollutants.

The tarred, paved and roofed areas create a heat island, which artificially overheats the area, altering the micro-climates of sensitive plants in the Bronberg.

Large numbers of people in close proximity generate rubbish and waste, which attract feral cats, rats, cockroaches and flies that did not form part of the natural fauna. Louise writes that people will use pesticides to control these pests. Field mice and other natural fauna will move between the residential complex and the veld. Predatory animals and owls will catch the infected mice and cumulatively absorb the pesticides, with disastrous consequences.

High density housing creates more light and noise pollution, which will impact on the shy fauna on the Bronberg. The rural character of the urban edge will be destroyed, to the detriment of those people who have invested in a sedate rural lifestyle, she writes.



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