While it seems to most reasonable people that fracking absolutely should not take place in South Africa, the juggernaut keeps rolling. First the Karoo, then the Eastern Cape and KZN, now in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Berg foothills too!
Sungu Sungu and Motuoane Energy have appointed EIMS as the environmental consultant to begin the Scoping Phase to allow them to explore for oil and gas over hundreds of thousands of hectares. The Sungu Sungu application falls in the Okhahlamba, Phumelela, Dannhauser, Emnambithi/Ladysmith- and Maluti a Phofung Local Municipalities – extending south from approximately Memel, north of Winterton, east from Swinburne and west of Watersmeet. Motuoane Energy proposes to explore the area from Ladysmith, through Watersmeet, east of Besters and south of Droogdal and from Theunissen, north towards Kroonstad, east of Virginia and Henneman. In order to verify the amount of unconventional gas present and its viability as an energy source, prospecting – or exploration – as it is termed in the oil and gas sector, will need to take place. This activity has the potential to affect groundwater quality.
On hearing the news, Cecile Wyke of Verkykerskop wrote immediately to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) pointing out that according to the DWS website, rivers in this area form part of the Upper Vaal catchment and on the other side of the hills going down to KZN, part of the Tugela catchment. These two catchments drive the major economic hubs of South Africa. Besides being the water factories for millions of people, this is an important agricultural area. The biggest potential threat of Unconventional Gas exploration and extraction relates to the use and availability of water resources – there are real issues with both the quantity and agricultural usability of surface and groundwater resources.
Adele Slater of Elandslaagte Farmers Association (Ladysmith) comments “The agricultural community is extremely concerned about the impact exploration and fracking will have on the environment, rural community life and the economy. We are encouraging everyone, not just farmers and residents of areas included in the proposed exploration areas, to object to these applications. Should water quality and soil fertility in rural and agricultural areas be compromised even slightly, exorbitant food prices and purchasing drinking water (as experienced by consumers during this drought) will become the norm.”
Bronwyn Howard, Sustainability practitioner adds “In this area, there are countless rural people who rely on natural wetlands, streams and rivers for water. Communication networks are generally very poor here; the first thing such people will know about this is when their water becomes contaminated and they and their livestock fall ill.”
Tourism is a major income generator in the area and has the ability to drive growth and upliftment in rural areas. There can be little doubt that the increased traffic that exploration will bring, and the associated noise and light pollution in the predominantly rural landscape will impact badly on the growing niche markets of ecotourism, agritourism, hunting and adventure tourism.
Caroline Bruce of Oaklands Country Manor in Van Reenen is very concerned. “Fracking in our sensitive environment has no long term benefit to anyone. As owners of a hotel, which, due to severe drought is already experiencing water shortages that affect our guest experience and threatens our ability to operate our business professionally, any suggestion of further jeopardising the water supply would be insanity, let alone the fact that our business currently sustains the livelihoods of at least 75 individuals.”
EIMS will be hosting Open Days for the public to ask questions – try to attend and make sure you questions are properly answered.
- 26 July Ladysmith Town Hall 08h00 – 16h00
- 27 July Ladysmith Town Hall 08h00 – 16h00
- 28 July Harrismith Town Hall 08h00 – 16h00
- 2 August Henneman Commmunity Hall 08h00 – 16h00
Community leaders have arranged that a Public Meeting take place from 10h00 to 12h00 during the Open Day on 28 July in Harrismith and invited the CEOs of both Sungu Sungu and Motouane to attend. Please attend during this time to hear the challenging questions we will ask the Consultants (and their responses).
It is vital that everyone registers as an Interested and Affected Party with EIMS before 30 June.
- PASA Ref: 12/3/316 ER for applications in neighbouring areas of Emnambithi Local Municipality, Ladysmith, through Watersmeet, east of Besters and south of Droogdal. Motuoane Energy – Nobuhle Hughes at KZNMotuoane@eims.co.za
- PASA Ref: 12/3/315 ER Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Moqhaka Local Municipalities including Theunissen, towards Kroonstad, east of Virginia and Henneman. Motuoane Energy – Nobuhle Hughes at KZNMotuoane@eims.co.za
PASA Ref: 12/3/313 ER Okhahlamba, Phumelela, Dannhauser, Emnambithi/Ladysmith and Maluti a Phofung Local Municipalities, over an area of approximately 565 000 hectares (ha), extending south from approximately Memel, north of Winterton, east from Swinburne and west of Watersmeet. This includes Bergville, Verkykerskop, Van Reenen, Spioenkop. Sungu Sungu – Zizo Siwendu ERsungu@eims.co.za
- Cecile firstname.lastname@example.org
- Caroline email@example.com
- Adele firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andre email@example.com
- Bronwyn firstname.lastname@example.org