Following the recent meetings held by Rhino Oil and Gas to get public approval for their revised Application to Explore for Oil and Gas in KZN, Umphakathi Okhathazekile – Concerned Young People of South Africa wrote this open letter expressing their disapproval.
RE: Rhino ‘Trash’ and ‘Spoil‘ Application for Exploration Rights – Invitation for Public Comment
The answer is still no and it’s not going to change! In fact we consider it an insult that Rhino Gas and Oil believes that returning to the table with a slightly amended and well–dressed proposition will so easily pull the wool over our eyes.
Whilst we may be accustomed to such tactics being employed by politicians, we have become a bit wiser over the past few decades, and we are not going to fall for this weak effort to convince us to agree with their plans to destroy our land and environment.
When Rhino Gas first started meetings with the public, they told us that they would be moving ‘elephants which eat a lot of trees’ into our area. They initially proposed that there would be a much larger exploration area and showed little concern for areas protected by environmental legislation, or for the concerns and wishes of the public who live in the areas where they propose exploring and mining. They now return to us telling us that they will now only be moving ‘baby elephants who don’t eat as much’ into the area, and that ‘unlike other elephants, these elephants are in fact pink’. A slightly reduced exploration area and a gesture of consideration for the environment, and now we should welcome them with open arms!
We don’t want any ‘elephants’ at all! The first time the public was consulted we were in disagreement with any and all aspects of plans to mine our areas. The answer remains no and we are tired of having to keep giving the same answer to the same question time and again! No to Rhino Gas and Oil, and no to mining in our areas! What does it matter if drilling has been excluded from early stage exploration? Drilling will take place at a later stage of course. Are we really supposed to be distracted by the focus made on remote exploration techniques and be blinded to the fact that sooner or later there will be holes full of chemicals dotted across our land?
Please, don’t waste your time or ours with environmental assessments and other formalities. We are not going to stand for this! Just because some of us have other responsibilities to attend to and are not able to attend every meeting you keep hosting, does not mean that opposition to your proposals has in any way declined. It is a long way to travel just to say no, when we have already said no so many times before! Will you just keep hosting these meetings in the hope that one day we will change our minds?
We do not believe that the aims or agenda of Rhino Gas and Oil have changed at all. We believe that this is their best effort to deceive us and to get a foot in the door, after which they will continue with what they have been planning all along. We are tired of being ignored. We are tired of being insulted in this way. We are tired of Rhino Gas and Oil!
Yours faithfully, Mrs Stella Hlongwane CYPSA: President
Frack Free SA comments:
We believe that Rhino has taken out of its application all the activities that could be considered contentious and reduced the area of their exploration to try to get the application authorized with minimum fuss. We also believe that this is illegal, as NEMA EIA regulations require that all phases of a proposal should be assessed up front to ensure that all the impacts are identified, assessed and thus considered to inform the regulators in their decision making processes. Rhino will not have notified every land owner/user or their neighbours, so the application should definitely not be authorized.
This application has been submitted to PASA who have 107 days to make their decision.