Anti-fracking movement gains momentum

2016-02-26 06:00

AS the anti-fracking movement in Matatiele gains momentum, the community and various stakeholders held a strategy meeting last Friday to try and find ways of preventing the proposed exploration for shale gas.

The Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership (UCPP ) hosted meeting was also attended by Chief Lebenya and his Royal Bakoena Traditional Council Trust, Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) and the Matatiele council.

The meeting comes after an overseas registered company Rhino Resources LTD started a process of obtaining a permission to explore shale gas deposits in an area that borders the nearby Ongeluks Nek Wetlands. The shale gas is extracted using a controversial mining method called fracking, which has been banned in a number of countries.

The matter has divided the community as some believe exploitation of mineral wealth in the area will lead to great opportunities of job creation and development.

Nicky McLeod who is a member of the UCCP said the long-term effects and impact of fracking far out-weigh any little benefits that can ever be reaped – if any.

“If this is allowed to continue it will cause untold devastation to our environment,” said McLeod. “There are other ways of generating renewable and environmentally friendly energy that won’t have a negative impact.”

The same area Rhino Resources looks to explore is near the proposed “Water Factory Project,” which is going to be a possib;e solution to the water shortage in the area.

Resolutions taken at the Friday meeting were that the UCCP and all stakeholders consolidate their stance with local government and then invite Rhino and other government national departments to a meeting to state they completely oppose exploration.

“We also agreed we must stop waiting for Rhino and SLR Consulting to arrange meetings, as they are using divide and rule tactics. Some chiefs have been chasing them away as they can’t answer their questions satisfactorily,” said McLeod.

She said Rhino has tried to “persuade” the area’s traditional leader Chief Lebenya, who told them to ‘get lost’.

Rhino has also faced stiff opposition from communities in the KZN midlands where they have also identified areas they want to explore for shale gas.

Attempts to get hold of Rhino Resources for comment failed.

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