Just stay ‘fracking off’

2015-11-11 06:01
                                                                                                  Photo: ian carbutt Protestors make clear their views outside what turned put to be a fracking non-meeting last week.

Photo: ian carbutt Protestors make clear their views outside what turned put to be a fracking non-meeting last week.

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IF there were any fracking supporters in the audience at last Thursday's “non-meeting”, they remained well hidden.

About 400 people tried to cram into a venue which at most can hold 100-plus.

The meeting organiser, SLR Environmental, obviously had no idea of the depth of opposition and passion being manifested throughout the KZN Midlands as it attempted to outline its cause.

It became obvious that from a safety point of view, as well as the not-top-of-the-range audio equipment, that the postponement of the meeting was really the only option. There were individuals from all walks of life - farmers, householders, business people and a good representative of the young, looking towards their future, from Hermannsburg­ School and KwaSizabantu. Not only was it standing room only in the cramped venue, but the crowd spilt over into the street.

There was a high level of frustration as it was pointed out to the organiser that people had to take time off work to attend the meeting, which, apart from the unsuitable venue, had also been called at a most unsuitable time for workers.

Loud cheers and clapping followed the remarks of a lady who said that obviously Rhino and SLR were only interested in money, not the disadvantaged as SLR Environmental were not even prepared to spend money on the venue.

In response to a query Rhino Oil and Gas CEO, Phillip Steyn said that he and Patrick Mulligan had taken over a shell company and changed the directors - the parent company was in Texas. He said while he understood the emotions of the objectors, he also believed in what he was doing.

Rhino has applied to the Petroleum­ Agency of South Africa (Pasa) to explore over a million hectares across 10 000 farms in the KZN Midlands to look for natural gas deposits in the main, and minerals. It is required, before proceeding with such, to present Pasa with an environmental impact assessment, including public consultation.

SLR consultant Matthew Hemming said after the meeting that they had received only objections at the previously held seven meetings in the Midlands and said there were a number of steps to be followed in the process, but it was obvious that the Midlands public was doing its best to prevent such projects from the start.

Kwanalu president Andy Buchan­ of Greytown said: "This is the biggest environmental and socio-economic threat to the province and country. Our water is what drives this economy­. We are strongly opposed to any exploration or mining."

The Greytown Gazette will keep readers informed of the date, time and venue of the next meeting following a request to the SLR Environmental personnel to advertise its meetings in community papers rather than as previously, only in a Durban morning paper.

At the time of going to press SLR Environmental consultants had not contacted Umvoti Municipality­ to arrange another date and venue.

Although the meeting did not take place it was made very clear that the message was without doubt "frack off" and was under no circumstances “on”.

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