Netting project catches attention

2020-02-04 06:00
Netting is set down to secure dunes that cap a decommissioned landfill site.PHOTOS: Racine Edwardes

Netting is set down to secure dunes that cap a decommissioned landfill site.PHOTOS: Racine Edwardes

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A project launched 25 years ago in Witsands to keep a former landfill site covered is still working well and could soon lead to new job opportunities for nearby residents.

On Tuesday 21 January, staff from Vula Environmental Services set down new netting to cover the sand dunes at the beach.

Between R300 000 to R500 000 is spent annually on keeping the sand dunes at Witsands beach – located between Kommetjie and Scarborough – in place, according to City of Cape Town coastal manager Gregg Oelofse.

The project plays an important role in keeping Lighthouse Road vehicle-friendly and ensuring beaches remain plastic-free.

“The back of Witsands beach was used as a landfill site for Ocean View, Scarborough, Kommetjie. They used it for the domestic waste from those areas,” says Oelofse.

The dunes serve as a cap to cover the remnants of the landfill site that was created and used for about 30 years in the 1900s and closed in 1985.

He says Witsands beach has a mobile dune system, with the wind blowing sand to form new dunes continually along the shoreline, and also into the road, making it difficult for motorists to use the roads linking neighbouring towns Witsands and Soetwater.

The netting, which needs to be replaced multiple times a year, prevents the dunes from moving (fixed dunes), keeping the landfill buried.

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg explains: “It’s to stabilise the sand which is covering the slopes of the landfill and to prevent pollution to the surrounding environment.”

Should the landfill be exposed, she explains, it could result in the waste from the decommissioned landfill being blown into the surrounding environment.

Oelofse says the site was forgotten for many years until about 2003, but they were alerted to a problem when the wetlands filled up and created natural streams along the shoreline, running through the landfill and washing plastics onto nearby beaches.

“It’s just plastics and boots in the landfill now,” he adds.

The net used, he says, is cheap, and not environmentally contaminating. The repeated theft of the nets, however, is hindering the project.

Simon Liell-Cock, councillor for ward 61, hopes to put a stop to the thefts. He is pushing for jobs to be created for the locals.

“The project needs supervision and it needs technical know-how. But the locals can do the groundwork. I need to create jobs for the people in Ocean View. It’s perpetual – the need for jobs,” says Liell-Cock.

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