News From Parched Mountain: Tales from the Karoo in the New South Africa

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The idyllic country setting of the more renowned South African wine farms is brought to life by the bustling vibrancy and energy that flows through the charming student town. The quaint streets lined by towering oak trees and magnificent Dutch Settler Architecture, and the incredible mountain valleys hovering behind, are a picturesque homage to the Cape-Dutch heritage.

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For more information visit the Stellenbosch Tourism Page or for a list of camping accommodation and sites in Stellenbosch visit Linx Africa. Wrapped in the folds of gorgeous green mountain slopes, carpeted by infinite lush vineyards and filled with the fresh fragrances of the South African wine industry, the delightful Franschhoek is the most romantic stop on the Western Cape Winelands tour.

The surrounding hills host a concerto of delightfully bright and diverse flower species which pepper the magnificent quartzite landscape in the spring. The 18th-century church, around which the town was built, is a testament to the rich Afrikaans cultural heritage which is still deeply rooted in the charm and enveloping hospitality of the Western Cape Karoo community. For more information visit the local Barrydale Tourism Page or for camping sites and facilities visit the Warm Waterberg Spa.

Best known for the most dramatic mountain faces and passes on the South African wine route, Montagu is the beginning of Route 62 and the soulful gateway to the Karoo keeping some of the best unknown natural, historical and flavorsome gems. Other winners were honoured for their work in marshland restoration, solid waste management, marble mining, and coal plant emissions. Deal is the second South African to be recognized with the Goldman Prize. Bobby Peek was awarded the Prize in for his fight against industrial pollution in the South Durban region.

I have done nothing in this campaign for my personal benefit, however, the recognition from people on the other side of the world has been a great encouragement. The value of the prize has already manifested itself in our organisation, Treasure Karoo Action Group TKAG , because I have been able to pay salaries to staff that have worked for two years without, and commit to other expenses that have assisted us in reaching out to rural communities.

The moratorium was lifted following the recommendations of a government appointed task team, whose report suggested that exploration proceed without allowing for horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, while laws are amended and a monitoring committee is established. Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth.

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Environmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.

For additional information about the Prize and previous winners visit www. For additional information, visit www. Images from the prize giving ceremony in the USA will also be made available. To access the pressroom, go to www. Deal cited an example of a meeting that took place in Murraysburg in February,well attended by people apparently informed in advance by a local municipal official. It is noteworthy, he commented, that there was no advance notice of the meeting in any public place, and that it appeared that only certain people were selected as the audience.

In fact, five farmers from the Murraysburg area who did perchance find out about the meeting and attend, had no more than an hour or two of notice. According to reports, when local farmer Chris Barr asked Shell about the purpose of the meeting, Shell responded that the meeting was to inform and update local communities. Shell was then asked, if that [to inform local communities] was the purpose, why was there no advance notice to the community about the meeting? After what was described by some as a presentation with no new information and no answers, the audience was treated to lunch courtesy of Shell.

When presented with various opportunities in , to present to an informed audience with TKAG present, Shell has declined to appear. The company has also cancelled scheduled meetings with national environmental organisations on learning that TKAG would be present. Meanwhile TKAG have confirmed that their legal team is briefed and ready to respond to any formal move by the government to issue exploration licences for shale gas mining.

We believe that Shell is trying to push the technology into South Africa, before the community fully appreciates the risk that fracking poses to the prosperity of this country. We are very pleased to partner with an organisation that shares our vision of sustainable development for South Africa.

The unequivocal support of Afriforum will change things dramatically, and TKAG can now concentrate on the almost certain legal battle which lies ahead.

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In an address that included what he described as a sample of the hurdles facing the proponents of shale gas mining in SA, Deal said that in the view of TKAG, the technology was wholly inappropriate for South African conditions and that the applicants and the government would be challenged in the courts. But our view is that groups like TKAG perform a very valuable function in calling a check on what would otherwise be a headlong rush - into an irreversible decision - by governments eager to appease voters at any cost.


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I am not convinced that the economics of shale gas mining stack up in favour of the development - in fact I believe that the proponents of fracking have roundly failed to prove their case - and that in contrast to the stated result of helping SA, exploring for shale gas in the Karoo will add little of value compared to the risks of exposing SA unnecessarily to the same hazards and costs that the country would face in production. The SA government has an established inability to monitor mining operations, enforce standards of safety and technical compliance, and prosecute offending operators who can and do hire the best international defense with the comparatively vast funds at their disposal.

The bill to address an acid mine drainage problem in the town of Carolina has been budgeted at R million — again for the SA taxpayer. Law enforcement on SA roads cannot be counted as a strength of the Department of Transport, and even in the US, where the law enforcement agencies are better trained, better equipped and better paid, that country is battling to manage the additional enforcement challenges presented by traffic from shale gas mining.

There is no precedent for the DMR halting the conversion of an exploration license to production. There is no discussion of who will pay to build the pipelines and infrastructure to transport gas across SA. The applicants and our government have failed to acknowledge the bans, moratoria, and restrictions on Shale gas mining in other places and countries.

American regulations based on American laws cannot be imported into SA courts. The economic model commissioned, paid for and propagated by Shell and apparently endorsed by the government, fails to address even one cost. Shale gas is measured in decades. Sustainable activities, which, on the face of it, in a direct short-term comparison with shale gas, are less impressive, ought to be measured for their long term, renewable potential.

The jobs, production revenue and food security value of vegetables, meat, wool, tourism, wine, olives, honey and even the value of fresh drinking water should be calculated in much longer periods than decades.


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  6. A comparison on this basis may introduce much needed perspective. For our government to license exploration in the light of these unresolved issues, knowing and planning that it will open the door to full scale production, is ill-considered and irresponsibly risks the sustainability of future generations. He argued that the figures forwarded thus far, even though cleverly reduced to a fraction of the assumed gas reserves, were useless in the absence of a comparison against real costs, and the economic losses associated with the disruption - actual or potential - of sustainable economic activity.

    PWC also stated that there is a clear indication that the pursuit of shale gas is going to delay the onset of renewable energy and green technologies, and lock developing nations into a dependence on fossil fuels. They have been independently outspoken about their opposition to fracking in South Africa. Fracking has been banned or restricted in jurisdictions throughout the world. The South African Cabinet announced on Friday that it had decided to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Karoo.

    The moratorium was endorsed by the SA cabinet in April , followed by the appointment of a task team by minister Shabangu with the purpose of investigating fracking. She announced that the task team would focus, in particular, on the feasibility of fracking as well as its likely impact on the environment. Since that time the task team has met in total secrecy and consistently refused to make it's composition or findings public. Meanwhile, the Treasure Karoo Action Group has pledged to take the fight to oppose fracking in South Africa to the constitutional court.

    A sensible approach now will pay dividends for the future children of this country and enable them to meet their needs. In addition the group has concluded agreements with like-minded opposition groups to form a broad alliance in opposition to fracking and will be making an announcement on this during the week. It is anticipated that DMR technical report will be presented to the Cabinet early in August after which cabinet will make its decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium and allow exploratory drilling. Fear that the licenses would be granted were raised when Energy Minister Peters noted during a recent departmental meeting that: "It would be wrong for us to not use the resources that God left us with.

    This is a blessing that God gives us, and we need to exploit for the benefit of the people" before noting that the people of the Karoo were "going hungry. While our country is under the protection of a moratorium on shale gas mining — imposed by yourselves — Shell South Africa continues to doggedly market their plans directly to the elected officials who are subordinate to your authority. It is significant too, that this marketing campaign by Shell is underpinned by duplicity and deceipt. This whole thing makes me sick. Community leaders and local organizations are being targeted and I can guarantee you, they will be influenced to support fracking, no matter at what cost.

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    The whole thing has been politicized and it will be driven at that level. Specifically, the areas of job creation, water contamination, pollution and environmental damage are misrepresented to you and the elected officials who serve our country. Any person who has been exposed to the Shell campaign in our country is at risk of regarding fracking as a harmless process that has nothing but great benefits for SA.


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