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Media Release on proposed Shell Karoo Basin Gas Exploration Project

25 March 2011 at 12:10 pm

The Centre for Environmental Rights has concerns and reservations about the short timeframes and limited investigation required by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) in this application by Shell for exploration rights in the Karoo, and to similar applications that may follow. Our concerns and reservations relate to both the particular controversial technical proposal, as well as the expansive geographical area and the large numbers of interested and affected parties involved. Many of the I&APs are from previously disadvantaged and marginalised communities, and require additional support and protection from authorities to ensure that their interests are taken into account. The Centre for Environmental Rights will be monitoring this application closely to ensure that the applicant complies with all legal requirements, particularly in relation to those communities.

We reiterate our call for environmental impact assessment rules under the National Environmental Management Act to be made applicable to all prospecting, exploration and mining rights applications, and for the MPRDA to be amended accordingly. There is no defensible reason why this type of proposal should be treated differently from any other activity that may potentially cause detrimental environmental impacts. Undertaking this activity under NEMA rules would ensure a more comprehensive assessment of potential impacts, meaningful public participation within reasonable timeframes and an improved environmental management plan to regulate the impact of Shell’s proposed activities.

We also support calls for a strategic environmental assessment for the affected area to ensure that potential cumulative impacts are properly considered, and further research to inform decision-making that will give effect to the Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to our health and wellbeing.

Queries to, and comments attributed to, Melissa Fourie, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Rights
021 447 1647 or 072 306 8888 or [email protected]