A picture of a golden mole, similar to those found in the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve area for which protection is sought.
Pretoria - The upmarket Acres Estate lying on the border of the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve is described as uniquely situated and combining city living with wildlife.

But Friends of the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve are objecting to some houses in this development, saying they pose a danger to rare species, such as the golden mole, in the area.

The friends of the nature reserve turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in a bid to force the City of Tshwane to allow them access to the building plans and related records regarding the housing development.

The City earlier refused to give them the building plans as it felt that they were not entitled to them. The applicants, however, said that they needed to study the plans as they felt some of the houses in the estate had been built without considering the environmental impact on the adjacent nature reserve.

The applicants claimed that the City acted outside its rights in terms of conserving the area when it gave the green light to the development of the estate in the first place.

Louise Kritzinger, chairperson of the applicants, said in papers before the court the building plans were required by the friends of the nature reserve group so they could enforce their rights in protecting the area.

The complex forms part of the northern boundary of the nature reserve. Kritzinger said some of the existing houses in the estate had been constructed in breach of the environmental management plan for the area. The reserve is next to the Bronberg ridge and comprises various ecological systems which need to be protected. It is home to several critically endangered plants and animals. One of these is the rare golden mole, called the Juliana’s golden mole endemic to the area.

The Bronberg is the only area where this mole, which is blind and lives in soft sand, can be found.

They are said to be vulnerable and endangered due to loss of habitat.

The applicants said that inappropriate construction impinging on the reserve and along the mountain range and its ecosystem was one of its major threats. They further stated that they were doing all within their power to protect the ecosystem and had restricted the walking of dogs in the reserve to permit holders.

The respondents said they wanted to see the building plans which had been approved and those still to be approved for the estate, but the City said this would encroach on the commercial rights of the architects.

The applicants said they would not show the plans to anyone else, but they needed to study them themselves.

According to court documents, experts recommended at the start of the development that the bulk and height of the houses should be placed in such a way that they blended in with the landscape and the reserve. But it appeared that some of the houses had been erected on the building line - 3m from the endangered species habitat.

The court was told that the reserve was an unique urban nature reserve.

The application was postponed indefinitely as the City’s opposing papers were not yet ready.

Pretoria News