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Media Release: CER asks PASA to extend timeframes in Shell application

5 April 2011 at 12:56 pm

5 April 2011

Request for extension of timeframes

The Centre for Environmental Rights has today written to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa to request an extension of timeframes in the Shell South Western Karoo Basin Shale Gas Exploration Right Application.

“This application is surely the biggest application in the history of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act in terms of the geographical area covered, and the many thousands of people affected. Our Constitution and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act require that all people affected by such an application are given a clear understanding of what Shell proposes doing, and adequate opportunity to make representations as to why this application should or should not be approved. The National Environmental Management Act also requires that special regard be given to the many affected people from disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

Given the scope of this application, the controversial technology proposed, the thousands of people affected (including  thousands of people from disadvantaged, vulnerable and remotely situated communities), as well as the sensitivity of the Karoo ecosystem, the Centre for Environmental calls on PASA to extend the deadline for comments on the draft environmental management plans by at least another 120 days.”

During May and June 2011, the Centre for Environmental Rights plan to convene a number of community workshops in the Karoo to provide information to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities about environmental rights and rights of participation in this application by Shell, and to assess what additional information communities require to make an informed decision on the application.

Call for strategic environmental assessment in view of the flawed environmental management regime of the MPRDA

Secondly, in view of the flawed regulatory regime of the MPRDA under which this application is being brought, the Centre will also write to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs with a formal request to initiate a strategic environmental assessment for the Karoo basin. This is particularly important in view of the fact that there are at least two other pending applications for shale gas exploration in the Karoo pending before PASA.

“The difficulty with the flawed regulatory regime put in place by the MPRDA is that there is no holistic, integrated assessment of the most beneficial land use for the area, taking into account all factors (including energy needs). Had this application been brought under the National Environmental Management Act and not under the outdated, inappropriate environmental provisions in the MPRDA, there would have been a proper, comprehensive environmental impacts assessment that included a comparison of shale gas development and existing land use and development strategies for the area. Instead, we now have this rushed, piecemeal application for exploration rights that ignores the integrated approach to sustainable development required by NEMA and the Constitution, and pretends that exploration is somehow unconnected to large-scale shale gas development in an arid, ecologically sensitive part of the country.”

A copy of the letter can be accessed here:  http://cer.org.za/programmes/mining/disputes/

Quotes attributed to, and further queries to, Melissa Fourie, Executive Director, mfourie@cer.org.za, 021 447 1647 or 072 306 8888.

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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