Cape Town - Coastal fishing communities and concerned environmental groups were geared up to take on yet another energy company, Tosaco Energy, that sought to explore for offshore oil and gas on the West Coast, this time in the Northern Cape.
This takes place just a few months after two separate high courts stopped seismic surveys off the east and west coasts.
The Green Connection community outreach co-ordinator Neville van Rooy said the group, along with several other communities in the region, were concerned that Tosaco had recently obtained authorisation to conduct a seismic survey in Block 1, which stretches from Alexander Bay to Hondeklipbaai in Northern Cape.
In October last year, the organisation submitted its comments on several aspects of Tosaco’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for this project that related to an alleged lack of procedural fairness, information gaps and scientific uncertainty.
Van Rooy said it was shocking that Tosaco had now been given the green light even though affected communities in the region felt the public participation processes were far from meaningful as it took place at inconvenient times and through inaccessible mediums.
“Since so many affected people have been excluded from meaningful participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), communities believe that this approval is not only unacceptable but also illegal and are willing to pursue the matter all the way to court,” Van Rooy said.
Andy Pienaar from Kobush Development Association in the Northern Cape said they worried about the impact exploration and drilling activities would have on marine protected areas around Block 1 and the economic implications for their people.
Numerous affected communities lodged their objections to Tosaco’s seismic survey on Thursday as the deadline for appeals concluded on April 7.
“Once again, small-scale fishers were not properly consulted and once again we see government ignoring the voices of fishing communities when they say no to oil and gas exploration on the coastline and their concerns on the impact that the seismic survey activities will have on their livelihood,” Masifundise programme manager Carmen Mannarino said.
In response to previous concerns about seismic surveys, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said the development of the upstream oil and gas industry was part of South Africa’s economic recovery strategy as the local production of oil and gas would support the country’s energy security and provide an opportunity for people there to benefit.
Tosaco was unreachable for comment by time of publication.