GEORGE NEWS - The George Municipality commenced with listed activities in terms of the 2014 EIA Regulations without the requisite Environmental Authorisation (EA) and is now applying for ex post facto (retrospective) approval (i.e. Section 24G Application).
The expansion of the existing Gwaiing Resort on Portion 82 of Farm 202, to provide additional camping and caravan facilities, resulted in the clearance of ±0,5 hectares of indigenous vegetation within a critically endangered ecosystem (Garden Route Granite Fynbos).
The clearance of vegetation took place during October 2018. By commencing a listed activity(ies) without the requisite EA, the George Municipality contravened Section 24F of the NEMA, and is therefore required to undertake a Section 24G Application.
A Section 24G Process is an ex-post facto (retrospective) authorisation process where a listed activity (in this case the clearance of critically endangered vegetation) was unlawfully conducted without the required approval (environmental authorisation) in terms of the NEMA and the EIA Regulations.
The comment period for the pre-application Section 24G report commenced on 9 March 2020, and has been extended until Monday 20 July 2020.
According to Legacy Environmental Management Consulting (Pty) Ltd., the appointed independent Environmental Assessment Practitioners (EAPs), are unable to confirm whether or when the expansion of the existing Gwaiing Resort may continue, as this is the purpose of the Section 24G process (i.e. the purpose of a S24G process includes providing the DEADP with enough information to make an informed decision about whether to grant or refuse approval of the intended expansion) and the final decision lies with the relevant competent authority (i.e. DEADP). It should be noted that there are no legislated time frames for Section 24G processes.
The application is currently in the pre-application phase. The 30-day comment period on the pre-application Section 24G Report for the unlawful expansion of the Gwaiing Resort (from 9 March to 9 April 2020) was affected by the national lockdown and deemed to be suspended on 27 March 2020. On 5 June 2020, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment published directions which allow for public participation activities to be resumed, and therefore the comment period has been extended.
Members of the public who may have an interest in the project and wish to register as an interested and affected party (I&AP) are encouraged to submit written comments and/or request to be registered as I&APs on or before 20 July 2020.
"The relevant reports are is available on Legacy EMCs website, and can also be made available to I&APs via other electronic channels (i.e. Microsoft One Drive, We Transfer, WhatsApp).
Whilst hard copies of the reports were placed at the Pacaltsdorp and George Public Libraries, kindly note that these public places currently remain closed under Covid Alert Level 3.
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