This morning I attended a meeting with the Friends of Rietfontein (FoR) and FreeMe to discuss the K60 road development that I mentioned in my previous post “Development vs conservation of wild space in Joburg”.
I was pleased to see that there were over 20 people there, even though many of the people thought the turnout was bad. Clearly the few environmentally focused meetings and events I have been to in the recent past have given me more realistic expectations.
The meeting was focused on the positioning and approach that FoR and FreeMe wish to take to oppose the road development which besides the physical 65m land loss, will impact the wildlife rehabilitation work of FreeMe and effectively kill the green belt that currently exists upon that ridge.
Suffice to say that it’s the same old story we hear in most development vs conservation issues where it’s about the environmentalists having to prove that the company doing the EIA isn’t doing a thorough job, nor one that is representative of all parties involved. It’s that same story about lack of public notification, lack of available information and basically just trying to railroad a ‘suitable’ environmental assessment through as quickly as possible so that the developers can get to building whatever it is they want to build.
It’s so infuriating to me that this EIA process – a legal requirement I remind you – which is intended to protect our environment is so very broken (or so easy to circumvent?!).
Anyway, this handful of concerned people are going to try to put together a full proposal about the true impacts this road will have to the reserve and to offer alternatives instead (Witkoppen anyone?). I have offered my assistance in terms of helping to share information and knowledge via a Facebook page that I’ll set up for them. They currently don’t have a single point of communication online, so hopefully this should help somewhat, and I’m pleased that I can help in some small way. It should hopefully also help to get more public interest and participation too.
So, expect to hear much more about Rietfontein from me.
And with that, let the fight begin! :)