|Development of Vetch’s Pier in Durban Would Set a Negative Environmental Precedent|
Several objections to the approval of a new yachting marina and luxury apartments at Vetch’s Pier in Durban were raised by Wessa, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, Coastwatch KZN and other interested groups as part of a formal appeal process that expired on Tuesday.
The decision to approve this development would set a negative environmental precedent that would encourage other property developers to privatise further stretches of public property on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.
The project was a 50-50 venture between the eThekwine Municipality and private developers and had been given conditional authorization by the department of Mtholephi Mthumkhulu MEC, Environmental Affairs after a five year impact assessment.
The society argued that there was a risk of the development becoming a financial white elephant that would require subsidy by Durban ratepayers in perpetuity.
Kirsten Youens an environmental law attorney representing the society argued that the officials in Mthumkhulu’s department were biased towards the developers and failed to give a fair hearing to alternative proposals.
Youens stressed there would be no objections by the society and Coastwatch to redeveloping the landward side of the run-down Point area and were only concerned with the implications of developing in the sea and public beach area.
She argued that uncertainty as to who owned the sea and sections of land below the high water mark made the approval of the project legally flawed in several respects.
The decision to authorise the project was not in the spirit of the new integrated Coastal Management Act which stated that the coast belonged to all the people of South Africa, said Youens.
Youens stated that a comprehensive cost-benefit and risk analysis had not been available to the public.