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Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association v Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Local Municipality

9 March 2020

Case no. 1765/2019

High Court, Mpumalanga Division, Middelburg (Local Seat)

Date of judgment: March 2020

Judge: Brauckmann J (Acting Judge)

This case involved an interdict brought by Applicant against the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Local Municipality preventing the municipality from proceeding with construction of a bulk water pipeline project until an additional water use licence was granted, and environmental authorisation  issued. The Applicant also sought to review and set aside the decision of the Municipality to adopt an IDP and implement the project.

Note the decision of the Municipality was reveiwed on the basis of legality and rationality and not under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

The Municipality, acting on advice of the Province, decided to implement construction of a water pipe without receiving environmental authorisation despite the project’s proximity to an endangered ecosystem, wetlands and indigenous vegetation located in undisturbed topsoil. The court found that the construction triggered a listed actvity and therefore environmental authorisation was required.

The Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association was successful in the review and the Municipality was ordered to pay its costs.

The Court ordered that the Municipality was interdicted and prevented from further constructing the pipeline project until an Environmental Authorisation is obtained. In addition, the Municipality was interdicted from abstracting any water from a particular dam via the proposed project in excess of what was permitted by the current water use license, or any water use license granted in favour of the municipality in future.

Download the judgment

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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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