Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

kalahari2@vodamail.co.za's picture

Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) is a National Park located around the Augrabies Falls in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. The AFNP falls within the Nama-Karoo Biome and has total of 186 species.The park has become the iconic contrast of the wild, pure, primitive developments. Currently the park has the following two threats:
(i) Development of the Orange River 800 metres upstream of the main Augrabies Fall in the Remote and Viewshed protected areas of the AFNP
(ii) Installation of Photovoltaic solar power plant
I think these proposals are unsolicited. I also read the comments and input from various stakeholders, they have the same perspective. The Augrabies Falls and the National Park are under immediate threat. We cannot afford to loose the natural beauty of the AFNP, we have to be proactive to defend this region. The question is how can we pass this message through to the politicians to stop this attack on our investments?.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thank you

Beeld article

HydroSA wants to build a hydroelectric dam at Richie Falls that will definitely have a negative impact on those that live downstream on the Orange River, as well as tourists and rowing enthusiasts. Read more in the Beeld article:

http://www.rapport.co.za/Nuus/Nuus/Los-ons-waterval-20140524

Apparently the head of HydroSA doesn't understand the fight against the schemes as the country is in need of power. Maybe he should take a trip to the falls in the park. Been there and would be sad to think that those amazingly powerful falls will be diluted if the water gets diverted.

RE: DLIST Benguela: Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) fr

It is a great shock to hear about these developments. I recently travelled by river until about 400 km upstream of the main falls. This is a truly unique environment and an asset to all South Africans. Does ORASECOM, the four-country commission that oversee management of the Senqu-Orange River Basin know about this? If enough people care about saving Augrabies Falls, or wants to know more about the issue, we can approach ORASECOM as a group to find out exactly what is going on, and petition the South African environment. Now is the time to yell out. Can the person who posted this provide us with more details?

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

I would absolutely love to get involved in any way, shape or form. It would be a tremendous loss to South Africa and all of its citizens if a majestically place like this falls into the wrong hands. While I agree economic upliftment is important in an impoverished area, it needs to be responsible, sustainable and well regulated. It is my understanding that Spanish owned companies erect these solar plants and eat the majority of the pie only to leave crumbs for the local people who they promise in their proposal will benefit from the development.

Re: DLIST Benguela: Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) fr

I too would support such an initiative.

It appears that there are several threats to National Parks - some of
you may be aware of the threat to Hlhluwe Imfolozi by coal mining, right
on the border of the wilderness area.
http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/kwazulu-natal/wilderness-zone-imp...

I think the question we need to address is a larger one, that of the inviolabiltiy of National Parks (and heritage areas, as in coal mining that has been permitted within a few miles of Mapungubwe). There must be
areas that are inviolate for resource extraction, whether it be direct
mining, or as in the case of Aughrabies, that of run of river hydro plants.

There are numerous other possibilities to locate run of river hydro generation barrages - it seems short sighted to propose placing one directly above the heart of a national park, in an area which needs all
of the tourism development it can attract. There are of course many other arguments against this which will emerge as the process unfolds.

However I do think that organisations like this getting together to take
this on add weight to the gravitas of such objections and protest.

all the best
Glenn

RE: DLIST Benguela: Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) fr

The threats to the ecological infrastructure should never be undermined as in many cases the damage caused is usually irrevocable. It will be such futile to let this development goes ahead but I too would support the initiative to stop this development. Even the ecosystems have an economic value far more than can be accounted for in Rands and this needs to be made clear to politicians!”

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

Mr Andrew Hockly from Orange River, is a guy who brought this matter to our attention. He saved all the reports about the proposed developments on google drive . Please access the documents at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B3_GjH0x0KeQZjJlYjBlNDUtOTk2Ny00....

Thank you

RE: DLIST Benguela: Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) fr

I follow on from the comments that indicate where the EIA process currently stands.

If the RoD has not yet been issues then this is certainly an ideal opportunity for any person to submit comments, even if they have not registered in the EIA process previously. DEA must consider all comments submitted, irrespective of when they are submitted, and as long as they are submitted before the RoD is issued. It is also best at this late stage of the EIA process to submit them directly to DEA.

It is may not worth waiting until the decision is made by DEA and then submitting an appeal, as the appeal process is usually very short and involves a substantial amount of documents that have to be submitted very quickly. In other words the appeal process can be restrictive.

I would therefore suggest that local stakeholders that wish to submit comments to DEA, do so immediately. In fact send a letter to DEA today, saying that comments are coming within a few days and stipulate how many days they must wait - 7 days would be a good time in which to organise a group of comments amongst yourselves and send them into the decision-making authority. Doing so in a group is simply more powerful and will get more attention from authorities.

One must remember that the EIA process, in which the participation process is embedded, needs to respond to local needs and issues, and cannot be used to exclude people. Local stakeholder need to get involved in the EIA process and tell it what is needed.

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

Dear Dlisters

The DLIST team wrote to Department of Environmental (DEA) to find out about the status of the Record of Decision (RoD), for the proposed Hydropower station development. The RoD has not been issued yet. DEA has accepted the Scoping Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, and is awaiting for the applicant to submit the Final EIA Report for review and decision making.

The Scoping Report is a document put together to determine what should be covered in terms of the environmental information to be sent to the authorities for review. It also details how much content must be covered. The scoping report is important to all EIA projects. It helps to clarify key issues and to encourage discussions with stakeholders and Interested and Affected Parties about important environmental issues and suggested methods to minimise the negative impacts. EIA is a method used to assess the environmental impacts of the proposed development. It is a legal requirement in terms of National Environmental Management Act, 1998. Act . EIA evaluates the predicted impacts from the planning phase, design and construction phase. The impacts could be good or bad, and can include all important parts of the natural, social, economic and human environment.

Public Participation plays a crucial role in the EIA process. It is where the public is given an opportunity to provide comments and input about the proposed development. The public should have access to information early in the process, and any¬body can sub¬mit com¬ments within the record time. It is crucial for stakeholders and surrounding communities to take note of the project notices, and follow the instructions provided. Normally the notices indicate how to register as an Interested and Affected Parties, when and where the public participation meeting would be held. It is important to attend these meetings, as they keep an individual updated about the progress of the project. For the proposed development of Hydropower station the doors are not yet closed, there is still an opportunity for your voice to be heard. The due date for submission of the Final EIA Report has been extended. Stakeholders who wish to provide comments and input are encouraged to contact the applicant: Aurecon Group. To get the contact details visit http://www.aurecongroup.co.za/en.aspx.

Thank you

DLIST Team

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

Augrabies Falls National Park is indeed an interesting place with its natural beauty at the forefront. Any development within the vicinity of the AFNP will have irreversible impacts on the environment in some way or the other, changing its current visual and natural characteristics.

Despite the fact that the proposed developments of renewable sources of energy in the AFNP will have incremental local to regional benefits this may not entirely outweigh the negative impacts. According to a Non-Technical Summary of the Final Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report regarding the proposed Hydropower Station on the Orange River, the primary significant impacts will have medium to high impacts on flora, heritage and aquatic ecology.

While renewable sources of energy is broadly considered feasible options in terms of global change, it is worth following a firm Record of Decision making if various structures needed to operate these renewable energy sources can change the characteristics of the place forever. Has this Record of Decision been pursued?

RE: DLIST Benguela: Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) fr

The Augrabies discussion is heating up. Here is a tremendous and irreplaceable asset, one that is deeply ingrained in our collective culture, from the earliest of South Africans through to the present, as well is in our tapestry of natural treasures. It is under threat from development, and there are government-moderated processes than can say yes or no to this development. We are specifically talking about the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. If the Record of Decision (ROD) gives the go ahead, once the EIA process has been run, then we may see destructive actions starting very soon, and some of them may be irreversible. Now, part of the EIA process requires pervasive public input, and in the case of Augrabies this input should be solicited on a nationwide basis, as this is a national asset. No longer can quick, localised meetings be used to push through development. Has a sufficient public participation process been conducted here? If not, then what can be done?

soninkec's picture

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

What a magnificent place Augrabies is...one of a kind in our country, one of a kind in the world! And home to a colourful array of cultural and natural scenery. The hydro-electric plant proposed by HydroSA at the Augrabies Falls will cut through the unspoiled landscape that accommodates 186 species and acts as a conservation site for our South African heritage.

It seems that previous decisions have been made around Augrabies Falls National Park by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. It appears that both the physical and cultural environments of this rich area would be affected by this development. Hence a full Environmental Impact Assessments and Heritage Impact Assessments have been conducted and specialists are being drawn in to closely study the local ecology that would be affected by the development.

In terms of decision making the full EIA has undergone a public participation process for Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs), and comments and responses has been documented for concerns highlighted.

From what I can gather, it seems the process of the proposed development is now in the DEA's hands to accept the report. Once accepted the DEA must grant authorisation and decision on the proposed activity applied for. Thereafter, all registered I&APs on the project database will be notified of the outcome of the decision within 12 calendar days of the date of the decision. Details regarding the Appeal procedure will also be revealed.

Further clarity on the land that is proposed for development of renewable energy would be appreciated, as well as further information regarding the Photovoltaic solar power plant.

It is a pity to see that even with the best intentions the physical and cultural environment will still be adversely impacted by the developments which are meant to improve our quality of life.

Save Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) from river diversion

Thank you Soninke. It’s good to know that the Record of Decision (RoD) has not yet been made. I think the next step from now is to wait for DEA to make the RoD and take it from there. The Public Participation Process (PPP) process has been done for this project and it makes me wonder if the community around Augrabies has attended the meetings. The public participation meetings are designed to give people a chance to exchange views and influence decision-making. It is crucial that people attend the public participation meetings, and take note on further notices regarding the project. It is our environment...our community therefore we need to act to protect it. If DEA gives a go ahead for the development . We will appeal as we cannot afford to lose Augrabis National Park.