Press Release – Harrismith Business Forum22 June 2016
On 13 June 2016 the national Department of Environmental Affairs rejected SANRAL’s final environmental impact report for construction of the De Beers Pass Route (a National Road 3: from Keeversfontein to Warden in the Free State) parallel to the existing National Road 3 (‘N3’).
The Harrismith Business Forum is opposed to the De Beers Pass Route as 70% of the traffic currently passing through Harrismith, would deviate to the new route. This would undermine the economy of the towns and surrounding communities along the existing N3.
The Forum appointed specialists to review both the draft and final environmental impact assessment reports submitted by SANRAL to the Department. The Forum’s specialists supported the findings of SANRAL’s environmental specialists that the environmental impacts of the De Beers Pass Route are unacceptable and concluded further that the route, is also socially and economically unsustainable and that it would not be in the country’s national interest. Additionally SANRAL estimates that the De Beers Pass Route which would only be about 10km shorter than the existing N3, would have cost R5,3 Billion as at July 2013 construction prices.
SANRAL must now amend the final environmental impact assessment report and show why the De Beers Pass Route is its preferred alternative when its own environmental specialists have concluded that it is the least preferred route. Cullinan & Associates raised these and other unsubstantiated conclusions reached by SANRAL numerous times throughout the environmental impact assessment process. We are delighted that DEA finally asked SANRAL to explain how and on what its conclusions are based.