Nkandla ‘green’ town worries Ezemvelo

2012-10-17 00:00

KWANXAMALALA — Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has raised concerns about the Umlalazi-Nkandla green town planned for the area near President Jacob Zuma’s home.

The town is expected to be so green, it will generate electrity to sell to Eskom. But that is what concerns Ezemvelo.

In the plans for the Smart Growth Development Project, which will cost about R1,04 billion, are a wind farm, a “small farm” of solar panels and solar panels on buildings.

Exemvelo says the wind turbines — up to 150 metres high — will be in the flight path of a rare species of bat found in the Nkandla reserve, about eight kilometres north of the proposed green town.

Ezemvelo is also concerned about the effects of high-mast security lights in the town.

It said these will lure insects from a wide area, which in turn will draw birds. The increased lighting might also benefit poachers.

According to the preliminary environmental impact study, it is still uncertain how much electricity will be generated at the new town — the first since the ANC government came to power in 1994.

Officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the town is likely to become a big white elephant, because it is “in the middle of nowhere”. They believe it will not be viable.

They referred to a modern shopping centre that opened in 2008, but has already fallen into disuse. The taps at the shopping centre were dry and the toilets could not be flushed.

When sister newspaper Beeld visited the area yesterday, the shopping centre was standing empty, except for a few offices used for counselling.

Mac Maharaj, President Zuma’s spokesperson, would not respond yesterday to the flood of criticism unleashed by the entire development (Zuma’s residence, the town and the roads) thus far.

Construction work at the Zuma compound was continuing apace yesterday under the watchful eyes of police, who prohibited Beeld from entering the area.

Women were planting vegetables in terraced fields above the compound.

Beeld could not ascertain from any department yesterday who had conducted the environmental impact study.

The provincial department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs referred Beeld to the national department of Environmental Affairs.

At the time of going to press, Beeld had not yet received any environmental impact study from any of the departments.

The complex will comprise more than 40 residential units (rondavels and chalets), main houses, a helipad and soccer fields, among other things.

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