Comments by the HRA on the current (7th) version of Hermanus Bypass Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)*

* DEA&DP Reference 16/3/1/2/e2/15/2124/14

Download PDF version.

Introduction

All those Hermanus residents and/or organisations that previously registered as Interested & Affected Parties (IAPs) will have received two emails from a company called SRK, the EIA consultants appointed by the Western Cape Province to apply for legal authorisation to build a new bypass around Hermanus.

The first email has some summary documents attached and it also refers IAPs to the SRK website that has literally thousands of pages of technical documents about the bypass, stretching back to 2012.

Comments on the latest iteration of the documentation need to be emailed to SRK on or before 22nd November 2023!

The second email concerns a change to the original Golf Estate environmental authorisation providing for wetland protection on the south west corner of the Golf Estate, close to Eastcliff Spar.

In terms of the proposal, the originally-approved wetland will be swapped for another wetland on the Golf Estate to allow the Bypass to go across the originally-approved wetland and through some new houses in the new residential development. Comments on this separate issue (to the overall Bypass issue) need to be emailed to SRK on or before 1st December 2023!

Background

What follows deals only with the Bypass itself, rather than the issue of changing the Golf Course wetland EIA approval.

To cut a very long (11-year) story short is difficult, however the upshot of 6 previous versions of EIA documentation, and thousands of comments submitted by IAPs (including technical experts among the Hermanus community, the Overstrand Municipality and Cape Nature) is that on behalf of the Western Cape Province, SRK and numerous specialist technical consultants have proposed the two alternative Bypass alignments shown in the two maps below.

Northern Alignment (above)

Southern Alignment (above)

The generally-favoured alignment seems to be the Northern alignment.

Some important issues

  • There would be very few Hermanus residents – if any – who would say that Hermanus does not have a transport problem (both traffic and public transport). What however SRK, on behalf of the Province et al is saying is that the transport problem is fundamentally a through traffic problem (through traffic is a Provincial mandate)
  • The $million questions should really be what exactly is the nature of the transport (need) problem in Hermanus and what is the best way to solve the transport problem?
  • Province, based on its own surveys, says that the through traffic amounts to approximately 7%, and that this new Bypass is needed to carry this through traffic which will save an average of 3 minutes of travel time from Gateway Shopping centre in the west to de Mond in Voëlklip on the east.
  • Throughout the past 11 years, IAPs have put forward numerous arguments questioning the need, technical and legal basis for the proposed Bypass, including;

    > The need for the Bypass has not been proven
    > The Bypass planning procedure is fatally flawed as it does not comply with National Transport Legislation
    > Alternative transport solutions have not been properly investigated
    > Parts of Fernkloof Nature Reserve will be expropriated
    > Priceless Fynbos will be lost forever
    > Numerous private houses will be badly affected by expropriation and loss of property values
    > Generations, Bosko and Hermanus High schools will be badly affected
    > The Hermanus Saturday Market will be badly affected
    > The money could be better spent on traffic solutions to the west of Hermanus, etc
  • Of significance is that the Overstrand Municipality, that originally proposed the Bypass, and that has been in support of it for the past 10 years of this EIA process, has now opposed it. The Mayor and Council have now voted against it and have informed Province of their opposition.
  • Nevertheless, SRK, representing Province, is carrying on regardless and the 7th iteration of the EIA process is out for comment.

Current (7th) Version

This is the 7th round of public involvement and the written invitation to stakeholders says “The Revised Amended FEIR is now available for public comment prior to submission of the report to DEA&DP, and SRK invites stakeholders to review changes to the report” by 22nd November.

It appears as if the four main changes from the previous version are:

  1. A new “offset” proposal comprising the Hemel & Aarde peat beds: The offset proposal is intended to provide an equivalent environmental contribution to make up for the loss of part of Fernkloof Nature Reserve, and while it may have had some merit prior to the recent floods, the Hemel & Aarde peat beds have all but been destroyed by the flooding in the Onrus River.
  2. New noise mitigation measures (barriers) at four specific locations – some up to 1,5m high: Whilst the proposed noise mitigation barriers in four locations – particularly at Generations school and along Fairways Avenue – may help to reduce noise, they are inappropriate and impractical in the extreme.
  3. An amended road alignment closer to Mountain Drive in Northcliff, making the FNR expropriation marginally less: The alignment of the Bypass closer to Mountain Drive in Northcliff, whilst reducing expropriation from Fernkloof Nature Reserve, will badly affect up to 50 private properties – varying from expropriation, through noise and visual intrusion to loss in property values.
  4. Wetland EIA changes in the Golf Estate: This a separate EIA process within this EIA process, as discussed in the introduction.

What should you do?

  • Before 22nd November 2023, you should email your comments, or you can use the form provided by SRK (https://forms.office.com/r/yLqwZsiwwK) to Asheerah Meyer of SRK Consulting at [email protected] , or alternatively by post to Postnet Suite #206, Private Bag X18, Rondebosch, 7701.
  • Please focus on the new issues, namely;
    1. A new “offset” proposal comprising the Hemel & Aarde peat beds;
    2. New noise mitigation measures (barriers) at four specific locations – some up to 1,5m high;
    3. An amended road alignment closer to Mountain Drive in Northcliff, making the FNR expropriation marginally less;
    4. Wetland EIA changes in the Golf Estate.

We trust that this document will assist you in lodging your objection.

HRA EXCO

November 2023

www.hermanusratepayers.co.za

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