Environment

Industrial Park: communication non- existent

Michele du Plessis

Laduma Tapp Planning Consultancy has been appointed by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (Mpumalanga Province) to develop a Forestry Industrial Park within the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality in the town of Sabie. The project leader is Fred Mathey from Laduma Tapp. The purpose of this application is to obtain the approval of the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality for the Township Establishment process on the subject portion of land for an Industrial Park.

“A strategic Feasibility study and implementation plan were prepared by Mott Macdonald for the Department, and now needs to be implemented with the first phase being to establish a township in accordance to the relevant planning legislation.”

According to the official Laduma Tapp Motivational Memorandum, “there are two (2) areas on the property that has surface right permits over the portion of land as illustrated in the Layout map. The client is currently busy negotiating with the owner of the surface right permits to release the land of it so that the proposed industrial park can be developed.” “This is not true. Except for communication from Greenbox Consultants, one email from Fred Mathey and two emails from Andre van Niekerk, my emails have been ignored,” said Berrie Linde, owner of Graskop Poles and the registered permit holder for the two areas. The two areas are under eucalyptus trees.

Linde stated in an email to Fred Mathey (concerning point 2.8 in the document) that: “There are actually three portions of surface rights (for the purpose of forestry and agriculture) over this piece of land. Two belongs to my company, Graskop Poles and the other to someone else. You know very well that the client is not negotiating with me; he is not answering phone call or emails.” Linde said that Mathey is totally ignoring him.

In an email to the Director General, Linde cc’d Andre van Niekerk and Fred Mathey.  Andre van Niekerk responded in a rare email received on December 3rd: “Mr Linde, the project, and especially the information to resolve the surface rights (yours and possibly other persons) are taking longer than expected.  As soon as we have the necessary details from DMR, we will engage with you on this matter. We are aware of your surface rights and the project cannot be developed without engagement with you on this matter.”

Regarding point 2.10 in the Laduma Tapp document, “the subject development site is vacant, with lots of vegetation and forestry plantations located on the land. Photographs of the existing land uses are attached as Annexure “T”.” There are no photographs in Annexure “T”. There are photographs in the Heritage Impact Assessment prepared by Paleo Field Services for Greenbox Environmental Consultants on page 13.

In correspondence with Fred Mathey, Linde stated that “This site is not vacant nor has lots of vegetation. It is completely utilized for forestry operations and planted with eucalyptus trees. It supplies jobs for more than 30 people. I feel that your “facts” is a misrepresentation of what is happening.” Furthermore, Linde stated that the said photographs are not representative of his plantation.  Linde also has an existing court order against TCLM, preventing them from illegally harvesting trees in his plantation.

“Careful consideration has been given to the needs of the eventual workers of this area, but also the existing land uses in the surrounding areas, as it will form part of the urban space for the immediate and surrounding community for many years to come.” From Laduma Tapp documents. “I need to ask what about the existing workers? They all have extended families that they support and this is the only work that they have. Not only the workers and their families will be deprived of a steady income. There is always a ripple effect in this kind of situation. Workers without an income, contractors without work, transport companies that transport the wood has less work and it affects their workers as well,” Berrie stated.

“I must be clear about the fact that I am not against this proposed development per se. What I am against is the manner in which this project was handled, right from the start. I am open for negotiation and I am available to start talking with them. Unfortunately, communication from their side is basically non-existent. I believe that the “existing users”, me and the Waterfall Farm Home Owners Association, have been alienated by the way that we have been treated so far. ” Linde concluded.

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