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South African National Parks v MTO Forestry (Pty) Ltd and another

17 May 2018

Supreme Court of Appeal 

Citation: [2018] ZASCA 59

Date: 17 May 2018

Judges: Navsa, Leach and Dambuza JJA and Davis and Rogers AJJA

In this matter, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court that South African National Parks’ (SANPArks) act of entering into an agreement with MTO Forestry (Pty) Ltd for the clearing of invasive forests in the Table Mountain National Park amounted to the exercise of public authority and therefore administrative action as contemplated in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000. The contract was a lease contract in terms of the National Forests Act, 1998 which entitled MTO to clear-fell the Tokai and Cecilia plantations in Tabkle Mountain National Park to further the objectives of the Management Plan for the Table Mountain National Park, which entail the clearing of invasive species and rehabilitating fynbos ecosystems. Management plans are prepared and adopted in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003.

The Court also upheld the High Court’s view that the decision taken by SANParks to accelerate the clear-felling process at the request of MTO, a variation of the agreement entered into with MTO, also amounted to administrative action. The Court also found that the public had a legitimate expectation to be consulted under the circumstances. The Court therefore held that, since the decision was not preceded by a public participation process, it was procedurally unfair and consequently set aside the decision to accelerate the clear-felling process.

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High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town 

Case No. 15910/2016

Date: 1 March 2017

Judge: Gamble, J

 

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Section 24 of 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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