Augrabies Falls EIA still in progressToday's News
28 Mon, Jul 2014
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the viability of a hydropower plant at the Augrabies National Park in the Northern Cape is still in progress, advises Mercia Grimbeek, Project Manager at HydroSA, the company tasked with the project. (See http://tourismupdate.co.za/NewsDetails. ... wsId=72335
) “We have no additional comment at this stage.”
SANParks is one of a series of stakeholders that has expressed concern on the proposed development, as sections of the plant will be in the national park, much of it on the community-owned Riemvasmaak Trust land. The extraction of substantial amounts of water could also affect the flow of the falls.
Howard Hendricks, SANParks GM for Policy and Governance, was recently quoted in the SANParks Times newsletter saying that, while the conservation authority was not against the development in its entirety, it did not support the construction of infrastructure that fell within the park. SANParks had raised these issues during the public participation process that was part of the EIA.
Contribution to the EIA will be made by a series of experts in ecology, agriculture, noise generation and heritage. Once the assessment is completed the public will have the opportunity to comment.
HydroSA’s core business is to develop run-of-river hydro projects in Southern Africa. These developments, says the company website, don't resemble conventional hydroelectric facilities and divert only a portion of stream flow, leaving enough water to protect fish and wildlife and allow for recreational use. “Additionally, our set-ups allow high water flows to pass freely downstream and perform important ecosystem functions. Essentially, a run-of-river hydroelectric facility uses the flow of a stream as it naturally occurs. Therefore, this type of facility requires little or no reservoir capacity for water storage, meaning we build no dams.”