Pennington: adviser challenges locals on vegetation damage

2011-03-22 00:00

THE team developing Umdoni Point — the 32-property sectional title seafront complex in southern Pennington — has answered complaints by local critics that the project is being unnecessarily harsh on the local vegetation.

The Witness interviewed the environmental consultant to the project, Pippa la Cock, who responed frankly to the complaints.

“The impact of any project on the environment is inevitably subjective and one could argue that to disturb nature at all is environmentally unfriendly and that it would be better for nature if mankind was not here at all,” said La Cock.

“In that context, I believe that we have taken a balanced course, which an ultra-conservative might choose to find too permissive, but that we have not compromised on critical issues.”

La Cock conceded that it has been difficult to carry out the extensive landscaping for the complex, squeezed in between Pennington town, Botha House and the sea, without causing consternation among some of the neighbours.

“With little rain, dust has been a problem, as has noise, but we’re nearly finished with that,” she said.

La Cock said the roads that have been carved through the bush have mostly been kept to three metres wide or to one-way carriageways where possible, with an overall width of seven metres, including verges, and accommodating all services such as power, water and sewerage.

“We have complied with all requirements to date from municipal, provincial and national agencies, and I’m happy to say that even the animals and birds that were there before we started are still happily there,” she added.

La Cock said that, guided by renowned landscaper Geoff ­Nicholls, the construction team has elected to use local materials in rehabilitating the disturbed areas, which, she says, “greatly reduces the carbon footprint in that we aren’t hauling tons of material into the area.

“It also facilitates blending in and avoiding the need to ‘green-wash’.”

Pointing out that buildings attract trees whereas they repel grasslands, La Cock added that the forested areas will recover on their own, but that some of the smaller trees have been removed to encourage other vegetation which requires sunshine.

The area which property owners will be allowed to garden is specified, which should help retain a good balance.

“We are very conscious that any development is more than just a site,” La Cock said.

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