The first rights to explore for oil and gas have been approved in KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Bronwyn Howard, an affected party associated with Frack Free SA, said even though the area approved for exploration was relatively small, it included wetlands near Chelmsford and Ntshingwayo Dam, and a river that flowed into the dam.
“This dam provides water to Newcastle, and supplements water for Utrecht and Hattingspruit. There are also other concerns with regards to potential pollution of groundwater. The concern is that, if this one goes ahead, then other much larger ones, like the one from Rhino Oil and Gas, which covers about 800 000ha, will too,” Howard said.
A document, which informed interested parties of the decision to go ahead with exploration and was compiled by the Department of Mineral Resources, said that objection and concerns related to future activities, such as the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on water resources, could not be addressed in the assessment, as these concerns were not part of the scope of work for this specific application.
“The potential impact on the geology, climate, ecology, wetlands and socio-economic aspects were also considered, and the implementation of mitigation measures in all phases of the proposed exploration activities will ensure that the planned activities [will] not result in any detrimental impacts on the environment,” the document read.
Livestock and crop production were the predominant farming activities on the proposed sites.
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