Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
HIGH COURT WRITER
THE WESTERN Cape High Court has dismissed an application by the Hout Bay Residents’ Association to temporary halt construction of a toll plaza on Chapman’s Peak Drive, finding that the association “significantly” exaggerated the extent of the harm it would have on the environment.
However, association chairman Len Swimmer said that while he was disappointed at the decision, the court’s dismissal of the interdict application did not mean the battle was lost as its main application, in which it challenges environmental approval for part of the project, is still pending.
The association and the Habitat Council applied for the interim interdict to halt construction of the R54 million project, pending the main action.
The interdict application was lodged against toll concessionaire Entilini, Premier Helen Zille and Transport MEC Robin Carlisle as well as SA National Parks.
The applicants argued that part of the works encroaches onto the farm Helsdingen, which is situated within the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and forms part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. They argued that the construction of a proposed control building within the TMNP and in a world heritage site was unlawful.
They further submitted that pristine areas of granite fynbos surrounding the area in question would be disturbed by the construction of stabilising gabions and other slope stabilisation measures.
In a judgment handed down yesterday, Judge Bennie Griesel said that in order to succeed in obtaining an interim interdict, an applicant has to prove the environment will suffer irreparable harm if it was not granted.
However, he said he was of the view that the applicants “significantly exaggerated” the extent of the harm to the environment.
He said that the area of encroachment measured 2 000m2, while the national park comprised a total area of 17 000 hectares.
The TMNP, in turn, occupies just over 3 percent of the larger Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, which collectively form a World Heritage Site, comprising eight separate non-contiguous areas.
“Thus, the site in question forms a minuscule part of the overall protected area,” Judge Griesel said. He added that the site where the control building was to be erected, was situated in a cutting, being a disused quarry of little or no ecological value.
Looking at the potential harm to the province, Judge Griesel said: “If construction is held up any longer, the overall project cost of R53m will no longer be attainable, due to ordinary inflationary pressures. The additional costs of extending the overall project period until June 2014 have been calculated at just under R9m. Moreover, the possibility cannot be excluded that, if any interdict drags on for a longer period, Entilini may well be inclined to terminate the contract and seek damages.”