140725. Cape Town. THE Airports Company SA (Acsa) wants to realign the runway at Cape Town International Airport to make room for larger aircraft and greater passenger numbers – but an environmental assessment says the increase in noise and air pollution would affect surrounding communities Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - Concerns about noise pollution, destruction of the environment, and the consultation process have been raised in public comments about proposals to realign the runway at Cape Town International Airport.

The suggested changes would allow between 10 and 14 more aircraft an hour to land and take off and would accommodate larger aircrafts, the Airports Company SA (Acsa) says.

Twenty-three people raised issues about the proposals, given in the final scoping report, by the deadline on Friday.

Many were worried about how the new flight paths would affect noise levels in their areas.

They asked that noise contours be provided to show the effects the new noise pattern would have on established and proposed housing projects.

The report noted that the realignment would shift noise contours that “may affect the ability of government to provide housing in the area surrounding the airport”.

SRK Consulting, the independent consulting group hired by Acsa to produce the report, directed inquirers to details given in the report on the proposed flight path for arrivals from the south and north.

It also told them that further information on the new noise contours would be given in the environmental impact report, to be released in November.

Others who commented raised the question of the effects that construction of the new runway would have on vegetation and wetlands east of the airport.

The report noted that although the wetlands were under threat from invasive vegetation, they were classified as category 2 critical biodiversity area wetlands.

It also said the creation of earthworks and clearing of alien vegetation might affect groundwater, fauna, and avifauna.

The effect of the changes are being assessed by ecology specialist studies, the findings of which are to be given in the environmental impact report.

SRK Consulting also received complaints that certain individuals had not been consulted directly.

Scott Masson, of SRK Consulting, said the company had undertaken “a thorough public participation process” after the release of the report.

Advertisements inviting comments had been placed in newspapers and flighted on radio, public open days and focus group meetings had been held.

Hard copies of the report had been made available to the public.

Twenty-five people commented on the draft report.

Acsa spokeswoman Deidre Davids said these comments had been taken into account for the final scoping report, although “no changes were made to the proposed project and activities”.

Acsa says the public comments will help determine the issues to be studied further in the environmental impact assessment.

The comments received are to be submitted with this assessment report to the national Department of Environmental Affairs, which must provide environmental authorisation before the project may be approved.

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Cape Times