Unesco to weigh in on Chapman's Peak saga

2012-02-28 07:29
Cape Town - The Western Cape transport department on Monday welcomed Unesco's involvement in the Chapman's Peak tolling saga.

Spokesperson Steven Otter said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation would be shown the progress that had been made in protecting Chapman's Peak Drive as part of a World Heritage Site.

He said Unesco had identified invasive alien species and wildfires as the greatest threats to the Cape Floral Region.

The proposed toll plaza was not a threat as it was being built in a disused quarry with no flowers or bushes.

Polar swimmer and environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh recently wrote to Unesco, saying the site was under threat because of construction.

Unesco contacted local authorities to get more information on the project, in order to take appropriate action. It planned to study existing legislative measures protecting Table Mountain National Park as part of the heritage site.

Otter said the toll building was necessary.

"When you have something that beautiful [Chapman's Peak Drive], you also need to make it economically viable so then it actually becomes sustainable," he said.

"There are also other buildings on world heritage sites. Being a heritage site doesn't make it a building-free area."

Otter said the department was still considering the concept of a smaller building put forward by the Civil Rights Action Group.

"We're taking it extremely seriously. It's gone out to an independent specialist and we're going to make a decision after that."

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