Alzo sprach M’lords – mines’ big face slap

A provincial ordinance – yes, there are some of those left – dating back to 1985 is the chagrin of mining companies with exploration plans in the Western Cape.

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The Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO) of 1985, enacted by the then Provincial Council of the Cape of Good Hope, is hailed as the saviour of farm land in SA. In two judgements, given on the same day, the Constitutional Court’s judges unanimously ruled that land planning, or rather what land is allowed to be used for, is a concurrent field of legislation between the provincial and national spheres of government.

The national government determines whether land can be mined and the provincial legislature will lay down rules as to where mining can take place. This ushers in a new disposition between mining companies and farmers. The former being traditionally viewed as powerful entities which can make and break as they see fit.

In future, farmers will have recourse to their provincial legislation regarding land use. In the instance of LUPO, the landowner is allowed to apply for his or her land to be rezoned from agricultural use to some other use – such as mining. The mines wouldn’t have automatic rights to start tearing farmland up.

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A farmer will have the last say – in the Western Cape at least.