AfriForum and Treasure Karoo Action Group have once again written to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to request that regulations be republished in the Government Gazette regarding the deadline for comments on the new draft regulations pertaining to the exploration for and production of onshore unconventional gas development.
AfriForum sent a letter on 19 May 2021 regarding an extension of the period for submitting comments and received feedback from the department on 21 May 2021 stating that the comment period on the published regulations is 60 days as per best practice for public consultation. The period for submitting comments is, however, stated as 30 days in the Government Gazette. AfriForum’s legal team sent another letter on 3 June 2021 requesting that this should be published accordingly in the Gazette and that the comment process must be started over.
Lambert de Klerk, Manager of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, said AfriForum and its long-standing environmental partner, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), will continue their opposition to shale gas drilling in the Karoo.
“These regulations should be published again correctly with the amendment to 60 days, because a significant number of people who wanted to submit comments either missed the deadline and/or were not aware that the comment period is actually 60 days. On a matter that could have a large impact on water resources in South Africa the department must ensure that ample time is available to take part in the public participation process. To ensure a fair chance to take part the department must revisit said publication,” De Klerk stated.
Jonathan Deal, CEO of TKAG, said the group had a track record of success in dealing with the government on the regulations, the most recent being a unanimous decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal against the Department of Mineral Resources. “In our view, to float a set of technical regulations with a 30 day window for public comment is short-sighted. To do it in the middle of a state of disaster, with more lockdown regulations looming, displays at best a careless arrogance around proper public consultation.”
De Klerk encouraged concerned citizens to stand up for their right to a clean and healthy environment by joining AfriForum and supporting TKAG.