Ruling ‘a victory for common sense’ – MECComment on this story
An application to interdict construction of the control building for the Chapman's Peak toll plaza in Cape Town was dismissed in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
Judge Bennie Griesel said no order had been made as to costs.
The Hout Bay Residents' Association and the Habitat Council had approached the court in March to urgently interdict construction of the proposed control building as it fell within the Table Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Their urgent interdict was dismissed and their normal interdict application was heard at the end of May.
They argued that building on the site was unlawful as it was not authorised by a management agreement between the province and SA National Parks (SANParks).
It was also argued that proper authorisation was not granted by SANParks and the director-general of the environmental affairs department.
The respondents in the matter are Entilini, of which Murray and Roberts is a senior partner, SANParks, Western Cape premier Helen Zille, Transport MEC Robin Carlisle and Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
In his judgment on Wednesday, Griesel said he had considered both the irreparable harm and prejudice that would be caused to both parties.
Granting an interdict would severely prejudice the province.
It would delay the completion of the project by a year, from June 2013 to June 2014, and push up building costs.
He said Entilini could be tempted to terminate the contract as a result and seek damages.
It was also his opinion that the area of encroachment formed a minuscule part of the overall protected area and that the nature and extent of human interference was rather inconsequential.
He said it “was not as if some insensitive developer is seeking to bulldoze a four-lane highway through a field of pristine mountain Fynbos”.
The proposed control building could only be an improvement on the “unsightly” temporary building, which the Judge felt was hardly an “auspicious” entrance into a World Heritage Site.
He concluded that the applicants had been given ample time, ten years, in which to make their voices heard and their concerns raised.
Carlisle welcomed the judgment, saying it was a victory for common sense, “a commodity which is very lacking in South Africa in many respects at the moment”.
He said, however, that he harboured no feelings of triumph and respected citizen bodies and their actions. – Sapa