‘Dramatic’ impact

2017-09-12 06:00

Options to soften the impact of a planned road extension are being considered by City of Cape Town officials.

They are currently doing an environmental impact assessment of the proposed Houmoed Avenue extension in Noordhoek and ­Masiphumelele.

However, conservation lobby group the Toad Nuts says the development will be devastating for local animal species.

The road development would run within metres of three major breeding ponds of endangered western leopard toads, says Toad Nuts’ Suzie J’Kul.

“One of these major ponds has a very large amount of biodiversity: Chameleons, a very large variety of birds that depend on this pond, otter, as well as western leopard toads that are calling right now. The roadkill in this area is presently non-existent.

“If this Houmoed Road extension is passed, it will dramatically affect the western leopard toad as well as a large amount of biodiversity that is dependent on these ponds,” she says.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says the road extension would be done over two phases. The first phase will entail upgrading the existing section of Houmoed Avenue from Noordhoek Main Road to Buller Louw Drive and extending this road to link up with Lekkerwater Road.

The second phase will continue with the extension from Lekkerwater Road up to the other existing section of Houmoed Avenue in the west (at Fish Eagle Park).

The road extension will provide an alternative link to Kommetjie Road, to serve trips between the Kommetjie area and Noordhoek, Sun Valley and the rest of Cape Town. The link would help with providing rapid response by emergency and municipal services, says Herron. The development would also help reduce peak-time traffic congestion.

“Houmoed Avenue will provide the residents of Masiphumelele in particular, who are highly dependent on walking as their primary mode of affordable local transport, much shorter walking distances and walking times to access the primary shopping destination in the valley, which is the Longbeach Mall and Sun Valley Shopping Centre node. Houmoed Avenue will also have bicycle lanes, which will allow much more convenient access between the Kommetjie area and Noordhoek, and between Masiphumelele and the shopping node, Noordhoek, Fish Hoek and Sun Valley,” he says.

The Houmoed link will provide vehicle access to the northern boundary of the vlei and will allow the City to protect the wetland from any further encroachment and degradation of the vlei edges, Herron explains. It will also create a recreation opportunity for the public to enjoy views of the wetland and the views across the wetland of Chapman’s and Noordhoek peaks.

Both phases trigger the need for a basic assessment environmental process, Herron adds, and numerous public participation activities have taken place with the affected landowners and the greater community.

The applications for both phases are expected to be submitted later this month to the environmental affairs department, Herron says.

“Numerous mitigation measures were put forward by the faunal specialist and freshwater ecologist to avoid or limit impacts on fauna during the construction and operational phases of the roadway. This includes, but is not limited to, creating new habitats where appropriate to offset the loss of habitat and wetland functionality, to install faunal drift fences along the roadway, lighting directed away from the wetland to prevent impacts at night and providing faunal underpasses under the roadway,” he ­explains.

City officials are considering measures such as aligning the road to the southernmost fringes of the wetland, just north of the existing urban development.

“This ensures a minimum on-site impact to the wetland. The traffic engineers considered various other routes, using existing roads in the area, but for transport planning reasons and various other reasons, the proposed new road is deemed most suitable.

“Two alternative alignments are currently being proposed in the area around Lekkerwater Road. The preferred alternative limits impact on the wetland, faunal habitat and milkwood trees,” he says.

“Off-site mitigation, in the form of rehabilitation or improvement of other nearby wetlands to offset any impact on the development site, are also being proposed to mitigate any unavoidable on-site impact.”

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