Water rights appeal upheld

2012-12-04 22:22

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Bloemfontein - An appeal judgment against the water affairs department about the transfer of farming water rights was welcomed by commercial farming body Agri-SA on Tuesday.

Union president Johannes Moller said the lengthy court matter was somewhat tragic, because the case had obviously been handled the wrong way by the department.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed an appeal by the minister of water affairs against a decision which set aside a Water Tribunal ruling to refuse the transfer of a water licence from one farm to another.

The SCA held that Goede Wellington Boerdery's application for a transfer of a water licence be granted with an order for costs against the minister.

Moller said Agri-SA become involved in the case to seek clarity on the requirements for the transfer of water rights as applied by the department.

He said that in this case, the department had followed an approach using its version of black empowerment to the exclusion of all other factors listed in the National Water Act.

Goede Wellington Boerdery's application for a transfer of water rights was denied by the department, after which a case was lodged at the Water Tribunal.

Moller said the Tribunal focused solely on the transformation issue and adopted the same view as the department.

The High Court in Pretoria reviewed the Tribunal's decision and found for the farming enterprise.

Moller said there had been strong criticism of the poor handling of the matter.

"The approach followed by the department did not serve the need for effective water use, economic growth, and even black economic empowerment," said Moller.

He said the ruling would serve as guidance when the department of water affairs processed applications for water transfers in future.

Read more on:    water  |  agriculture

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