SKA builders warn on fracking interference

2014-09-03 15:54
Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The builders of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in the Northern Cape hope to co-exist with shale gas prospectors, but if needs be will invoke new astronomy laws to protect their interests, MPs heard on Wednesday.

"We're looking for a co-existence with fracking", science and technology department chief director for astronomy Val Munsami told Parliament's science and technology portfolio committee.

Construction on phase one of the SKA, which on completion will be the world's biggest radio telescope is set to start in 2018, centred on a site about 90km north-west of Carnarvon.

Work is currently under way there to build a precursor telescope, known as MeerKAT, which comprises 64 antenna dishes. These will eventually be incorporated into the SKA.

An area hundreds of kilometres across, protected in terms of radio interference and light pollution, and known as the Karoo Central Astronomy Advantage Area has been declared around the site.

Munsami said his department would first seek to co-exist peacefully with so-called frackers drilling for shale gas.

"But we're also mindful that there might be instances where we will collide."

If this happened, the department would look to provisions of the 2007 Astronomy Geographic Advantage (AGA) Act for protection.

"This is why we have the AGA Act, which preserves and protects the astronomy facilities and investments that we have made so far."

Members of his department were currently working closely with their counterparts in mineral resources.

"In fact, we form part of the monitoring committee for fracking. And so we look [after] the astronomy interest in that [forum].

"And so what's very important is that as the exploitation, exploration licences are being dished out, we have to be mindful of what the requirements are for the astronomy."

Munsami said the existence of "buffer zones" around the astronomy facilities in the Northern Cape had to be taken into account when it came to fracking licences.

"And so what's very important is that there must be concurrence from the [science and technology] minister around any licences for exploitation and exploration around fracking", he said.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  fracking  |  ska

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
36 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.