'Concerned Eden Resident', George:
The notification of and invitation to comment on the proposed university precinct development at the Garden Route Dam was shoved in our gate. What if the wind had blown it away? This is hardly a responsible way of involving the public in the process for such a massive change. It gives the impression that they just do it because they have to.
Sharples Environmental Services (SES) responds:
SES has been appointed by the George Municipality to conduct the environmental authorisation process for the Garden Route Dam project and are using a number of means to inform the public of the project, the intent being that interested and affected parties (I&APs) have an opportunity to comment on the proposals and the various documents.
We are also engaging with all authorities who may have jurisdiction or issues of concern with regard to the proposal. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the post office is not open and the background information document (BID) could not be posted.
As such, we therefore personally hand delivered the BID to the properties surrounding the Garden Route Dam, ensuring all Covid-19 safety precautions were taken, i.e. sanitising, wearing of face masks and social distancing, in line with our public participation plan which was approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP).
We are committed to informing people of the development. Apart from personally hand delivering BIDs, we have placed an advertisement in the George Herald and have placed three notices on site informing the public of the proposed development. We have also e-mailed the BID to as many identified interested and affected parties as well as authorities as possible and have put the various documents on our website for downloading.
It should be noted that there are a number of opportunities for I&APs to comment on the proposal. We welcome comment from all sectors of the community but more specifically we would like to understand what issues of concern the I&APs may have on the proposal.
A large amount of time and effort has gone into preparing the proposal and reports and investigating the impacts of the proposal on the receiving environment, and we want those who may have comments to raise their issues of concern in order for us to address them in a comprehensive manner.
We have just started the first 30-day public advertising process which is the pre-application process. Following this is the application process which has another 30-day commenting period and thereafter is the 30-day public participation process on the environmental impact report.
Today marks the 4th day of an approximately 10-month environmental process, providing ample opportunity for I&APS to comment on all the reports.