Day Zero nears for fracking in SA with new court case


On Wednesday, 21 February 2018, the North Gauteng High Court will hear an application brought by Afriforum and the Treasure Karoo Action Group (“the Alliance”) against the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs to set aside the regulations on Petroleum Exploration and Production promulgated in 2015 which provide for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in South Africa.

The Alliance maintains that the regulations are unlawful on various grounds. This hearing is remarkably similar to a recent Eastern Cape High Court hearing where members of the local farming community succeeded in their application to set aside the same regulations.

Based on the advice received from AfriForum’s counsel, Marcus Pawson, AfriForum’s Head of Environmental Affairs is reasonably confident that on at least one of the grounds of review a similar decision could be expected in Gauteng. According to Pawson, “there are other elements to our case which address aspects relating to the way the Regulations were drafted and we look forward to the opportunity to place our argument before the Court”.

Speaking from Cape Town, the Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO, Jonathan Deal added, “The timing of Jacob Zuma’s departure dovetails with probably the most debilitating drought that many people in South Africa can remember. This water shortage and the fact that Zuma, who was fiercely pro-fracking, is now gone, provide an opportunity for rational decision-makers in government to review the government’s approach to a technology that has not been received with open arms by communities in other countries. We realise that the court will not consider either of these issues, but we are delighted that with Zuma gone there may just be a more sensible approach to South Africa’s energy landscape. It’s taken many years to reach even this first case in which we get to place some of our concerns before a court.”

AfriForum and the Treasure Karoo Action Group received official acknowledgement from Royal Dutch Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden, of an open letter addressed to him and Hloniphizwe Mtolo, national chairperson for Shell South Africa. The letter raised concerns with the many environmental effects and pollution that accompany fracking and the fact that South Africa does not have water or national regulations for this industry after the Eastern Cape High Court had declared the regulations of 2015 invalid.

Community members can support the anti-fracking campaign by sending an SMS with the word “fracking” to 45354 (R1).

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