Snowdon Farm Trust to develop winter resort

2012-01-31 00:00

SNOWDON Farm Trust, involved in a legal battle over access routes to its farms in the Swartberg, wants to develop a mountain resort offering winter skiing and summer eco-tourism in the area.

This was said in a supplementary affidavit filed in the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday by one of the trustees of the Snowdon Farm Trust, Jason Taylor.

Snowdon, which has links to former business tycoon Gary Porritt, maintains that public access roads to some of its farms situated on the Lesotho border have been illegally blocked by farmers and businessmen in the area.

In his supplementary affidavit, Taylor alleged that, in the wake of December’s urgent application to the high court, the Transport Department confirmed that the routes in question across Leyden and Beaumont farms include public roads and public rights of way.

He alleged that this information had been given to the landowners’ attorney by December 22 last year.

Taylor said after obtaining official confirmation from the Transport Department on December 28, the trust wrote to the landowners pointing out that it was an offence to close a provincial public road or right of way in terms of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Roads Act, which was punishable by imprisonment of five years or a fine, or both.

The landowners’ persistence in maintaining locked gates across the routes in question resulted in criminal charges being laid and warrants of arrest being obtained against five individuals earlier this month, he said.

Taylor alleged that since the closure of the routes concerned in early December last year, raids by stock thieves have increased in the area due to the fact that the routes are also closed to the South African Police Service Stock Theft Unit, which habitually used them to chase and retrieve stolen cattle.

He said Snowdon also wishes to develop a “high mountain resort” in the area, but without road access for two-wheel drive vehicles “nothing can happen” including environmental impact and other studies.

Consideration for such a resort on Eagle’s Nest farm was first mooted in the 1980s.

According to Taylor, thermograph temperature monitoring was carried out, which showed that with the aid of snow machines “permanent snow could be guaranteed for four months”.

There was even more potential for such a development on Berridale which encompasses some of the highest privately owned land in South Africa, he said.

In addition, the direction of the slopes on Berridale result in less afternoon sun than on Eagle’s Nest, ensuring longer lasting snow, he added.

The case has been adjourned indefinitely.

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