The legal victory against Rhino Oil & Gas and Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) is significant as it shows that there are so many ways to challenge the processes for unconventional gas exploration and extraction.
The legal route can tie the regulators and the companies in court for quite a while to prevent any applications from being approved. However, it is now time for us all to pool our resources together to make the final legal case based on principle to stop all applications for exploration or extraction of unconventional gas in South Africa. The costs to lives and livelihoods is so well documented in the developed world for us not to have to learn these lessons the hard way. Once it is fracked, we can’t press the ‘undo’ button.
The CSIR’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) provided a comprehensive report which detailed the steps needed by government before any exploration or extraction for unconventional gas (shale gas or coal bed methane) could proceed. They stated: Unconventional gas reserves may exist in other areas of the South African onshore and offshore territory, and would need separate consideration if their development was considered. This has not occurred in the areas beyond the Karoo and the authorities have not indicated if or when this would commence.
We are living with the reality of drought and will all be affected by this form of inappropriate development. It is thus up to us all to commit to thwart these efforts to harm our lives and affect our livelihoods. The recent nuclear judgment (SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa) shows what we can do if we work together!
ER317 – 800 000ha in Northern KZN
This is the Press Release from Kwanalu that CEO Sandy La Marque issued yesterday:
A judgement handed down in the Western Cape High Court today (Wednesday, 3rd May 2017) has ruled against The South African Agency for Promotion of Petroleum and Exploitation (PASA), The Minister of Mineral Resources and Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd on an application for exploration rights on more than 800 000ha in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Download the Judgement here
Hailing the ruling as a “massive victory” for the local farmers who took legal action against the application for exploration, Kwanalu CEO Sandy La Marque said: “Today’s court decision is a huge relief for farmers not only in the northern parts of KZN but the entire province. We commend those farmers involved for their hard work and determination in achieving this result.”
Rhino Oil and Gas submitted their Notice of Application for exploration in two areas – one in the KZN Midlands, the other in Northern KZN, in late 2015 and early 2016 respectively. Both applications covered a total area of more than 1 600 000ha and in excess of 15 000 farms.
Kwanalu was quick to take a proactive stance against exploration and potential fracking, raising the alert to its members and the KZN public in 2010 and again in 2015 stressing the need to take action by participating in the processes as determined. “When Rhino Oil and Gas first submitted their Notice of Application for exploration in KZN, Kwanalu expressed its concerns about the business and environmental impact and the potential health implications associated with the extraction process known as fracking,” explained La Marque.
Commenting on today’s court ruling, Rob Hoatson, from Normandien Farms (Pty) Ltd who was behind the legal action, said: “We are satisfied with the judgement and will abide by the court ruling.” Urging everyone to look at the bigger picture, La Marque said: “Gas and mineral exploration could come at a huge cost to the environment – with the potential to contaminate our already scarce water resources, as well as being associated with serious health problems and threatening to destroy livelihoods and businesses which could lead to job losses and economic instability.”
“Fracking is considered to be one of the single biggest agricultural, socio-economic and environmental threats facing South Africa so, we are very pleased to see the ruling today. This bodes well for everyone to work within the legislation that has been put in place to govern the processes and procedures associated with mineral and gas exploration in this country,” she said.
Offering reassurances to farmers in the KZN Midlands about the outstanding application for exploration in their area, La Marque said: “We are at the advanced stages of instituting legal intervention regarding the Midlands exploration application brought by Rhino Oil and Gas.”