27 September 2011 at 9:36 am
Earlier this month, the Centre submitted an application to the Department of Mineral Resources under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for access to the report of the Ministerial Task Team on fracking, appointed by the Minister earlier this year. This morning, the DMR advised the CER that its application was refused on the basis that providing the document would “substantially and unreasonably divert the resources” of the DMR, and that the CER should contact the “relevant companies” to obtain the information. The CER will submit an appeal against this decision to the Minister in accordance with PAIA.
A first application under PAIA for details of the composition and terms of reference of the Task Team was submitted to the DMR on 28 June 2011. On 26 September 2011, the CER lodged an appeal with the Minister on the basis of a silent or “deemed refusal” by the DMR.
Access to information about matters that affect our environment is key to unlocking the realisation of environmental rights for all South Africans. Given the controversy and public anxiety around the issue of fracking in the Karoo basin, we call on the Minister and Department of Mineral Resources to reverse its position and share such information as has been collated by the Task Team and the working group advising the Task Team with the public. An open, transparent approach to this issue that promotes participatory decision-making is not only essential for good governance, but a central tenet of our legal system.
For more information on the Karoo fracking issue and download a copy of the DMR’s letter of 27 September 2011, click here.
Queries to, and quotes attributed to, Melissa Fourie, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Rights (021 447 1647 and [email protected]).