The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) has established an independent environmental monitoring committee for oversight of environmental aspects of the construction of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR). The announcement was made following the committee’s inaugural meeting in Port Edward last week.
“The environmental authorisation by the Department of Environmental Affairs for the construction of the N2WCTR was subject to conditions including the establishment of a representative environmental monitoring committee (EMC), with an independent chairperson,” said Mpati Makoa, Environmental Manager of SANRAL.
“With the developments relating to conventional engineering and construction of the haul roads to construction sites and the construction of the two mega-bridges progressing at a satisfactory pace, we are now pleased to announce the establishment of an oversight committee responsible for monitoring environmental compliance,” Makoa said.
“The committee will perform watchdog, monitoring and auditing functions to ensure compliance with specific conditions of the environmental authorisation and the requirements of the approved environmental management programme (EMP)for the N2WCTR, as well as conditions of all other environmental permits issued for the project,” she said.
“The main agenda points at the first meeting were the confirmation of members and representatives, the administrative functioning, including the terms of reference, as well as the strategic role and future engagements of the committee.”
The environmental monitoring committee for the N2WCTR comprises representation of South African conservation and wildlife organisations, environmental subject matter experts, and various government departments and/or state entities, local municipalities and representatives of the Traditional Authorities of Mpondoland. This is in line with the recommendations and requests of the Department of Environmental Affairs following the Record of Decision (RoD 12/12/20/701).
The committee will also provide a forum for discussing and resolving environmental issues, promote participation of stakeholders in environmental monitoring and provide the opportunity to reach common understanding between interested groups about the nature, scope and results of monitoring. It is also expected that the project will benefit from potential synergies with the project’s authorities coordination committee, which has already been established.
“The route has been planned to minimize the impact on environmentally sensitive biomes and existing human communities and settlements, and in addition to the EMP, a number of measures have been put in place to ensure this, and where possible to enhance positive environmental outcomes.
“These measures include a ‘Search and Rescue’ process through which rare, endangered and endemic species and species of conservation value will be translocated to suitable nurseries with the aim to both to assist with the rehabilitation of disturbed areas after construction and to re-establish in an existing conservation area where applicable.
“The establishment of the environmental monitoring committee is another level of assurance to concerned groups or individuals that the environment of the Wild Coast is one of our key priorities,” he said