Local government

2018-03-27 06:00

The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government have responded to the PHA Food and Farming Campaign in Schaapkraal after the group called for full legislative protection for the City’s breadbasket during a press conference held last Monday.

The group called on all levels of government to publicly proclaim protection for the area and tasked officials to answer to their plea. Nazeer Sonday, chairperson of the campaign, says the current drought is an unprecedented crisis and the only way to protect the main water resource in the City is to pursue a managed aquifer recharge plan for the whole of the PHA.

“In light of the debilitating drought, the City is now drilling into the aquifer, and 22 000 private boreholes have been sunk in the suburbs in the last year. The risk this poses to the aquifer is tremendous and without rain and any recharge, it is at risk of being destroyed.”

The campaign called on the mayor to declare an Environmental Management Overlay (EMO) zone over the PHA and the boundaries, saying local title deed restrictions would need to protect the aquifer, promote and enforce horticultural land use, encourage progressive agricultural practices and eliminate via prosecution all land use contraventions, and would require a budget allocation for the provision thereof from City and provincial departments.

The campaign also called on the mayor to support the provincial MEC Tribunal Ruling of 2017 which calls for heritage protection status for the PHA according to the 1988 guide plan map, to sign the documentation affording the PHA heritage protection status.

MEC Anton Bredall was also called on to gazette aquifer protection for the recharge zone similar to his January ruling for the Witzands Aquifer.

The Western Cape Government’s Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department says the suggestion of Sonday is welcomed. However, a process will need to be followed to achieve such an outcome. Given the various land uses in the PHA, various stakeholders will have to be consulted during such a process and hence it is too soon to pronounce on such a declaration.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says: “Over the last few months we have been working on a new Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF). This document will guide the development of the City going forward. As a result of the importance of food production, aquifer recharge and development pressures, the PHA is one of four special areas within the Metro that has received specific dedicated focus in the proposed MSDF,” he says.

“The proposal is that the core area of food production within the PHA is recognised and the importance of this production is highlighted. The proposal aims to protect the Philippi farming area within the PHA from urban development.”

The draft MSDF also acknowledges that the PHA has historically played a significant role in respect of facilitating food access for the City and that an appropriate development management response is required. “The revised MSDF is expected to be presented to Council for approval in the next few months. In the interim, all development and rezoning applications are dealt with in terms of the City’s Municipal Planning Bylaw and the current Cape Town Spatial Development Framework.”

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