The national electricity supplier Eskom, aided and abetted by the National Government, has earmarked Bantamsklip on the southwestern overberg coast as one of the preferred sites for its nuclear power station ‘roll out’. The process gives neither regard to public opinion nor takes cogniscence of the countless fatal flaws in the choice of the site which are becoming increasingly evident with environmental impact assessments and feasiblity studies.
OUR PROTECTED AREAS
Bantamsklip and Groot Hagelkraal are found on the ancient landscape of the Chainoukwa Khoi-san people and are both a registered SA Nature Foundation Natural Heritage Site (No: 72) and a registered Historical Monument. Present research indicates that Groot Hagelkraal farm harbours over 800 plant species, including 22 Red Data species of Agulhas Plain endemics, of which six are entirely restricted to the farm. Most of the endemics are associated with limestone soils.
The Agulhas bioregion hosts the greatest number of South African marine endemics, including sparid reef fish, octocorals and algae and is a nursing ground for many fish species. The coastline constitutes an overlap zone with the mixing area of two currents and is widely recognized as an independent province and bioregion. The Agulhas Biozone (coastal and marine areas containing Bantamsklip and Dyer Island) scores high on the threatened coastal lists and is gaining recognition as a priority area, and in the case of Dyer Island, is a known, irreplaceable category, within the Marine Protected Area (MPA) planning strategy and recommendations.\
We would like to quote from the current EIR Draft document: Volume 1. Main Report, concerning the present status of Bantamsklip and the other preferred nuclear sites.
"After due consideration, Eskom decided not to pursue an application for the construction of more than one nuclear power station in this EIA. However, in line with Eskom’s intention to pursue up to 20 000 MW of nuclear power generating capacity, an application for the second nuclear power station may be submitted by Eskom soon after the submission of the Final Environmental Impact Report for Nuclear-1. This application is therefore progressing as per the original application for authorization of a single site."
The proposed nuclear power plant will spread out its power lines and cut the Agulhas National Park and the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA) in two, destroying the vision of rehabilitating and conserving this wetland system through co-operative integrated land management. The power lines are set to traverse major scenic corridors on the R326/R43 and areas of great scenic value such as the historic Stanford Village and Stanford Valley, 35 kilometers from the heart of Hermanus.
The Overstrand ward contains within its boundaries both the heart of Mountain Fynbos – the Kogelberg, and the heart of Lowland Fynbos – the Agulhas Coastal Plains. In bioregional tourism terms, enhancing this eastern ‘heartland’ by integrating and underpinning the Agulhas coast and plains along the Fynbos Road and the coastal road to the evolving Agulhas National Park and surrounding Cape Nature Reserves makes sound economic sense. Imposing a giant industrial complex of devastating consequence to the natural environment, the Cape's last "Natural Frontier", a recognised Core Area where biodiversity drives the sustainable tourism initiatives on which this regions economy is based, is foolhardy.
OUR LAST WORD
We do not believe that spending over R1-trillion? on a nuclear strategy, despite no financial case for nuclear power having yet been conducted, will be compatible with dealing with rampant crime and HIV/AIDS. Nor will it deliver basic services to the poorest of the poor (including refugees!), nor develop a sound and affordable education, health and public transport systems. The 1998 Energy White Paper stated that: “Government will ensure that decisions to construct new nuclear power stations are taken within the context of an integrated energy policy planning process with due consideration given to all relevant legislation, and the process subject to structured participation and consultation with all stakeholders.” This has never materialised.