KAROO NEWS - Karoo hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - has been halted.
This, after the Supreme Court of Appeal in Makhanda (Grahamstown), ruled in favour of AfriForum and the Treasure the Karoo Action Group's (TKAG) application on Thursday 4 July.
"It is the dogged determination of farmers and residents in the Karoo over a decade which facilitated this significant victory," said local attorney Derek Light, who helped represent Agri Eastern Cape and hundreds of landowners in their fight against fracking.
The court found that the ministers of Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs are not authorised to implement the regulations for petroleum exploration production.
According to Light, oil companies Bundu, Falcon and Shell previously applied for exploration rights over an area of 225 000 square kilometres in the Karoo.
"They intended utilising a highly invasive deep-drilling process, which would potentially have a huge negative impact on the environment," Light explained.
In June 2015, the Minister of Mineral Resources hoped to regulate fracking, after which Light and his team advised their clients that the regulations were unlawful. They challenged the legality of the regulations, which were then put aside in court. The Minister of Mineral Resources challenged this judgement in an appeal to the Supreme Court, which was finally dismissed on 4 July.
AfriForum's Mornè Mostert explained that the regulations process would now have to start from scratch.
"We need to ensure that South Africa is sustainable. We believe, at this stage, neither the Environmental Affairs Department nor the Department of Mineral Resources has the correct facilities to ensure that the environment is protected."
Light said the judgement is especially significant because landowners held the government accountable.
"The Supreme Court of Appeal agreed that in this instance the Minister had exceeded his powers and acted unlawfully. Accountability of government is paramount in a successful democracy."
Jonathan Deal, the TKAG CEO, said the court ruling was a victory for the environment and residents.
"The Department of Mineral Resources has to go right back to the beginning and draft an appropriate set of regulations, taking into account all of the scientific measures and issues that we have pointed out to them, which were ignored literally, by the first set of regulations."
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