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PLETTENBERG Bay residents are up in arms about a proposed small boat harbour in the Piesang River and the erection of multi-storey buildings on the foreshore of the coastal town.
Although the Bitou Municipality awarded the tender for this development to Western Cape Marina Investments 10 years ago, the first round of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) is only being conducted now after the municipality changed political hands three years ago.
Earlier this year, the Cape Times reported that Bitou strategic services head Dupre Lombard said the lack of progress was caused by a seeming reluctance on the part of the developer to spend an estimated R2 million on the EIA with no guarantee that the project would go ahead.
In a report before the mayoral committee in March, the now DA-led municipality gave the developer 90 days to apply for environmental approval.
Plettenberg Bay resident and retired SA National Parks CEO Dr Robbie Robinson says he feels the area will lose its aesthetic value if the development goes ahead.
“They want to put those horrific buildings up on this beautiful coast.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a boy and I’m worried that the character of this place will be destroyed by such a development,” the 73-year old said.
He said commercialising the area would also put local marine life at risk as it would attract more fishermen.
“I’m not opposed to an environmentally friendly small boat harbour, but that’s not what they (developers) are trying to build here.
“Let’s keep this beautiful area pristine,” Robinson said.
According to CEN Integrated Environmental Management Unit, the company appointed to undertake the necessary EIAs, the harbour development includes a combination of commercial and residential buildings ranging from three to seven storeys high along the central beach area and on the banks of the Piesang River.
Rudi Martin, chairman of the Plettenberg Bay Environment Forum, said residents were very much opposed to the development as it would change the character of Plettenberg Bay.
“Its okay if they want to build a small boat harbour for the NSRI and yachts to use, but if they commercialise this area it will have a seriously negative impact on the estuary.”
“The impact on the Piesang Valley and this beautiful coastline will be very bad.
“People come here because of the natural beauty of the place,” Martin said.
Facebook-users also voiced their concern on CEN’s page.
“Clarification is needed regarding the degree of industrialisation of the fishing boat permits.
“The chokka fleet of the past two decades had a negative affect on the area, whereas recreational boating would be an enhancement,” said user Peter Krige.
Residents have until July 23 to submit their comments and can do so by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or posting a letter to 36 River Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, 6070.