FOLLOWING the abortive meeting two weeks ago called by SLR Consulting on fracking in the Midlands, Umvoti residents are still waiting to hear when the meeting will be reconvened, and where.
In response to a query from the municipality, Matthew Hemming of SLR Consulting stated: "We are in the process of engaging with the client and the regulatory authority in this regard. We won't know the outcome for a while yet. Thanks for the offer of assistance. We will be in touch when appropriate.”
This sounds very much like a politely worded but vague brush off. However, in order for the company, Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration, to proceed with any exploration there has to be an environmental impact assessment which includes public consultation.
A total of 11 public meetings were scheduled to cover the requirement of public participation in regard to the 10 000 farms identified in the Midlands by the company for exploration. In Dargle and Matatiele in particular, farmers, business people, individuals, chiefs, pupils - you name it - were all there and giving the SLR representatives a very clear indication that the answer to the possibility of fracking in the Midlands is a very serious and comprehensive “no”.
From Umvoti's point of view it is vital that all interested parties keep the pressure on SLR Consulting to make sure that the obvious overwhelming negative response to fracking is formalised at a meeting with all the role players, and not just quietly forgotten.