Organisations who appealed against the extension of a road, which might impact the Noordhoek wetland, are pleading to the public for funds to take matters to the High Court. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA
Organisations who appealed against the extension of a road, which might impact the Noordhoek wetland, are pleading to the public for funds to take matters to the High Court. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Plea to save the toads

By Amber Court Time of article published Oct 10, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Organisations who appealed against the extension of a road, which might impact the Noordhoek wetland, are pleading to the public for funds to take matters to the High Court.

The Noordhoek Ratepayers Association and ToadNUTS who aimed to save endangered toads, hope to challenge the Western Cape department of environmental affairs and development planning which approved the extended road last month.

The Houmoed Road phase one appeal made by the two organisations and the Noordhoek Environmental Action Group (NEAG) in January, was dismissed by MEC environmental affairs and development planning MEC Bredell who was to review the decision of the extended road.

“Bredell cited the fact that the wetland already was impacted by a number of roads (none of which border the wetland), because they drain into the wetland,” said NEAG’s, Glenn Ashton.

The environmental group's chairperson Andrea Marais said that going to court is an expensive process and that they are left with no other alternative.

“This wetland is under serious pressure from over development in the area and through human disturbance. If this wetland collapses it threatens the entire Noordhoek wetland system which lies downstream of this,” said Marais.

The wetland is home to endangered species such as the western leopard toad, the Cape clawless otter and a recently discovered water beetle, added Marais.

Co-founder of ToadNuts Suzie J'kul said that the road is a concern, because the toads have three breeding ponds where the road will run through.

“The middle pond will be filled in to a certain point which is the main breeding pond,” she said.

J’kul stressed that the impact will be that many toads will be killed.

“With having a few of these species surviving it is insane that we are putting a road by the pond,” she said.

Andre van de Spuy from the AVDS environmental consultants representing the organisations said: “This cannot be considered to be sustainable development, as this is defined under the South Africa National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).”

He added that the above is viewed as an assault on ecologically sensitive wetland habitat and local people's lives which goes against the community’s wishes.

“Since the minister Anton Bredell took his decision in this appeal, any parties who are dissatisfied with the outcome and feel that they have grounds to take the decision on review, may apply to the High Court to review the decision,” said department spokesperson Rudolf van Jaarsveldt.

With regards to the toads, the potential impact will be addressed through engineered mitigation measures, which include toad underpasses, he said.

“It was further recommended that an amphibian specialist should inform the design of the toad underpasses. It was recommended that the toad underpasses be monitored for at least 3-5 seasons to evaluate their success and improve their design if necessary,”he added.

Based on the application submitted, the road is needed to resolve significant road congestion in the valley.

“The authorisation is valid for 10 years for the applicant to commence from the date of the decision,” said Jaarsveldt.

Anyone able to assist NEAG financially or through expertise with this process can contact the organisation via the email address [email protected]

Weekend Argus

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