Farmers determined to fight against shale gas

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein heard arguments last week by Agri SA's affiliate, Agri Eastern Cape, regarding the legality of technical regulations for fracking previously promulgated by the Minister of Mineral Resources.

"In the absence of satisfactory information about the availability and treatment of water to sustain a fracking and shale gas industry in South Africa, Agri SA cannot support government's apparent appetite for a full-scale gas industry in this country" Janse Rabie, Agri SA's head of natural resources, said in a statement released on Monday.

The Department of Mineral Resources has approached the Appeal Court after Agri Eastern Cape, together with a group of interested landowners, were victorious in the Grahamstown High Court in Makhanda in October 2017 when Judge Gerald Bloem found that only the Minister of Environmental Affairs had the powers to make such regulations. Agri Eastern Cape opposes the department's appeal.

"Farmers and landowners in the Karoo have been fighting against planned shale gas developments in the Karoo and elsewhere in the country since January 2009. The case is proof of farmers' determination to remain resolute against fracking after more than a decade."

"One must have stamina to withstand these international oil companies," said attorney Derek Light, who acts on behalf of Agri Eastern Cape. "I have the greatest respect for farmers and their representative bodies for their decision to protect agriculture, workers and food security."

The Appeal Court has reserved judgment in the matter.

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