Pylon construction commences despite illegal activity

ESKOM GO AHEAD WITH PYLONS CONSTRUCTION

ESKOM have extended a notice of commencement to build pylons (power lines) through Alberton, without following the necessary procedures.

This comes after the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, dismissed all the appeals made.

“Residents and members of the ward committees over which the project is set to be developed, are extremely upset that Molewa has basically ignored all objections as well as the fact that by law, the Environmental Assessment (EA) may only be extended once,” said Alderman Bruna Haipel who spearheaded the appeals process on behalf of all concerned parties.

“She has taken the easy way out and has dismissed every single issue mentioned in the appeal citing the fact that in 2011 there was one objection which was then withdrawn. The fact that the interested and affected parties were not kept in the loop seems to have totally escaped her so further action is being contemplated,” added Haipel.

“Eskom claims to have received a further extension for their Environmental Assessment (EA); this is not the norm concerning EA applications as only one extension is allowed (which they have already used up) and then a whole new assessment is required to be done,” says someone closely involved with the pylons issue who would like to remain anonymous. “Eskom has failed to attach proof of their application for extension from the department or why it is required. Furthermore, the department has not explained why they allowed the extension,” they added. The attached EA approval is for Mpumalanga and not Gauteng (although the extensions states Gauteng and Mpumalanga). Accordingly, all approved activities are only for that specified area cited within that approval and does not included Gauteng. “The location approved does not simply change because they added Johannesburg in the title. Their application is to develop in an area found within the Govan Mbeki Municipality and does not state Ekurhuleni as the area where activity will occur,” added the source.

AFFECTED AREA OF ALBERTON

“They have also acted in bad faith and with mala fides in failing to provide the notices to interested and affected parties within 14 days as required in terms of the regulations and letter – which means back in October 2016. This EA is not applicable to the Alberton aspect of the project according to the documentation provided. If there is an EA for Gauteng, they must provide it immediately. They must show what steps have been taken to comply with their obligations in terms of the EA approval.

“Eskom is also still required to abide by all other legislation and regulations. Seeing that this assessment was done years ago, I doubt it conforms to the NEMA 2014 listing notices and regulations as well as the National Water Act considering that the development occurs close to a river. I think Eskom is hoping everyone will just accept what they say and forget to look at the documents. They are reminded that further environmental legislation and regulations have come in place since their approval and that they are still required to abide by these despite approval. This is even stated in the approval.

“I am not sure how the extension to 2020 was granted. As far as I know, after the second term, the application process should have started from the beginning again,” she said.

RECORD contacted the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality as well as Eskom, but we received no reply.

For free daily local news in the south, visit our sister newspapers Alberton RecordComaro ChronicleSouthern Courier and Get it Joburg South Magazine.

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  AUTHOR
David Pienaar
Reporter

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