GEORGE NEWS - The George Deep Sea Angling and Sport Club is appealing the environmental affairs approval for the first phase of the upgrading of the N2 between Kraaibosch and Die Vleie turn-off.
The club's appeal is based on the omission from the project plans of the club's proposal for the rebuilding of an access road that enabled vehicles to reach the beach at Kaaimans River mouth. It made boat launching from the river possible at all times and not dependent on the tide or level of the river.
The club argues that there are historical public rights to such an access road. It says the road was lost in the 1980s when the N2 was upgraded, despite the previous roads department having designed and budgeted to rebuild it as part of that project.
Club member Maurits Lammers says their club was formed in 1975 and at about the same time members started using Kaaimans River as a permanent launching venue. "Unofficial boat launching was done out of Kaaimans River long before 1975, apparently as far back as the 1950s. The club even had a tractor in a shed on the beach until the N2 upgrade in the 1980s. We effectively had access to the sea at all times from 1975 to 1985. The formalising of this existing track was planned to coincide with the upgrade of the N2, which was completed in 1988, but in that upgrade the road was removed."
This resulted in the use of the river by boats being limited by tides and seasonal silting up.
"The imminent raising of the Garden Route Dam wall and the increased use of water by an expanding George city will result in the river being closed more often than being open in future and will effectively halt boat launching, which is currently dependent on the river being open and the high tide."
Lammers says two environmental impact assessments have found the impact of the boats to be miniscule compared with road and storm water runoff and resultant pollution. "The situation now is that Sanral can complete the work on the access road that was started in 1982 without further studies or processes, as the work already commenced back in the 1980s. Furthermore, there is no final plan for the proposed pedestrian walkway, therefore a vehicle track can easily be incorporated into the plan."
Randall Cable, Sanral western region manager, said he could not comment on the matters relating to 1982 since the agency was established in 1998. "It should however be noted that Sanral's mandate is to build, manage and maintain national roads and ensure a safe road environment for all road users, including pedestrians. Based on guidance from environmental specialists, the pedestrian walkway in question is restricted to foot traffic only and is designed to very strict environmental conditions.
"The environmental management landscape has changed significantly since 1982, and we are of the opinion that the angling club will find it very difficult to obtain an environmental approval for a vehicular access road on this footpath alignment, to the beach. Incorporating this appeal into the current upgrade of the N2 has the potential to delay the project, which ultimately will affect all road users."
George Municipality supports club
Municipal manager Trevor Botha confirmed that the municipality supports the club regarding the reinstating of the access road, dependent on certain conditions, including that the club manages strict access control.
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