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25 September 2011

Legislation may set developments back further in the Southern Cape

Restrictions are to be placed on building activities along the coastline. This photo at Victoria Bay was taken in recent years when waves crushed into homes. The proposed set-back lines are bound to be controversial, but a public participation process is a requirement for the new Coastal Management Act which considers the effects of climate change.

GEORGE NEWS - Municipalities will in future be directly responsible for regulating exactly where any development may take place along the coastline. It is estimated that the ocean will rise by 60cm within the next 100 years due to climate change.

"This may not seem like a lot, but storm surges, wind and wave combined with spring tide may result in six metre run-ups. We’ve seen the disastrous results of this on the Garden Route coastline," said Vernon Gibbs-Hall, Eden District Municipality’s environmental officer this week.
He was speaking from a provincial climate change summit meeting in Cape Town.

"Homes situated on primary dunes are most at risk. Examples of homes situated within the 100m high water mark can be found along the entire Garden Route coast. Regulations restricting building of homes so close to the sea are long overdue.
"The erosion and deposit of sand (accretion) over coastal areas result in a shifting coast line which just has to be taken into consideration in future planning," he said.

The set-back lines determined for the Overberg District have proven to be controversial, with a storm of protest from developers.

Eden District Municipality drafted a Coastal Management Programme (CMP) which sets out the proposed regulations and guidelines of all activities within its jurisdiction. This is in keeping with the Integrated Coastal Management Act of National Government.

This draft CMP document outlines a proposed strategy to deal with the effects of climate change in the province. Vulnerable systems include natural systems (water, biodiversity and coastal or marine systems and resources); economic sectors (agriculture, tourism and fisheries); economic resources and infrastructure (energy, transport, health and air quality); as well as the built environment and livelihoods.
Disasters (social systems and extreme events such as floods and fires) are included.

The CMP incorporates an integrated management programme of all municipalities within its district - George, Knysna, Bitou, Hessequa, and Mossel Bay - as well as the Kouga and Koukamma municipalities seawards of the R62 and south of the Seekoei River. It also includes the SANParks and CapeNature areas.

High water mark

A specific method of determining set-back lines is being used by Eden.
"We have different dynamics in our region. Various models with our coastal features are being drawn up. A set-back line in a nature conservation area may disallow development within 1km of the high water mark. A second set-back line in a built-up area will delineate a limited development area," Gibbs said.
Eden District Municipality has to align its guidelines with the National Coastal Ma-nagement Act.

This is the first in four phases of drafted guidelines in which academic institutions will give input. The public will be given adequate time to give input as well.

Marine protected areas are also to be extended. Currently the Stilbaai MPA and Skulpiesbaai are proclaimed restricted zones. Updating and improving maps on boundaries of protected areas and having them declared as protected is of importance.

Research on funding of protected areas in South Africa is just one of the tasks identified by Enviro-Fish Africa who has compiled a 29-page EDCMP guideline which will soon be made available for comment.


- George Herald