Good day Herewith some info on a new environmental federation to be formed. It seems that this organisation will actually have teeth and funds. I therefore urge you to join. As soon as I have further info, I will pass it on to you. Regards MORNÉ VILJOEN CLS Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd Tel + 27 12 307 3022 Fax + 27 12 307 5735 Mobile + 27 73 229 2455 Email mailto:email@example.com
Opinion Participation .doc
We hope that the justice of our cause and the historic ignoble temporizing and sophistry of the polluting corporations and organs of State in defence or extenuation of environmental and social justice abuses will entitle us to your support. "As watch dogs for civil society's rights and interests, environmental activists and pressure groups represent the most informed and hence appropriate group to represent stakeholders on environmental reporting issues. It can be argued that without enforceable and comprehensive environmental accounting and environmental reporting standards, little will be done to regulate the activities of business and industry, as those in a position to regulate such activities may not be aware of the severity of impact of particular business/ industrial activities." (G. Mitchell and NW Quinn, "Environmental Reporting Disclosure in South Africa:
A comparative Study of the Expectations of Selected Groups of Prepares and Users, Meditari Accountancy Research, 2005) As you may recollect, individuals and groups have for decades, singularly or collectively, with ardour and intensity, endeavoured to address the contamination of the aquifer and surface water, the ecological degradation of the surface of the land, unsustainable development, the adverse impacts upon the people and the liability of irresponsible corporations. Many were discouraged by the inutility of struggling against seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as the inability of the South African Government to enforce punitive measures, the vast economic power of polluting corporations in comparison to the pecuniary inferiority of NGO's, the impotency to apply for legal remedies due to the expense and uncertainty of litigation, the lack of environmental awareness amongst the public and intimidation of affected parties. Furthermore, the technical issues to address are numerous and difficult. International and national interest, transient as it may be, have recently secured to our new Federation a certain degree of attention. In order to ascertain solidarity and a meeting of minds, I was admirably advised to proffer the following questions to you: 1. Which environmental issues and concerns are, in your opinion, of importance? 2. Which of the aforementioned environmental issues and concerns will you be willing to personally address and campaign for? 3. Which of the aforementioned environmental issues and concerns will you support but not personally be involved in? 4. Which environmental issues and concerns will you not get involved in? I shall appreciate your timeous response to these questions. I shall furthermore appreciate your courtesy if you can forward this invitation to other interested and affected parties and to please, confirm your attendance. Sincere Regards, MARIETTE LIEFFERINK. "The earth is mute. It doesn't get a vote in any congress or parliament. It doesn't own blocks of shares in the market. It doesn't rise up at a protest rally. It can't even buy a hybrid car. The earth has no voice - so someone must speak for it..." (Bryan Walsh - Heroes of the environment, Time 29 October, 2007)
Top lawyer joins forces with greens
The government and mining houses face a major challenge - with the strong likelihood of legal action - from a powerful new conservation alliance. The coalition is about to be formed by an array of environmental bodies seriously concerned at the way precious parts of the natural environment are being destroyed. Renowned human rights lawyer George Bizos has pledged his support in his capacity as a consultant to the Legal Resources Centre. "We are very concerned about the environment and are willing and able to look after your interests," he told a large gathering of conservationists representing environmental organisations from all over the country at a meeting in Johannesburg yesterday. The meeting was presided over by Tony Ferrar, chairman of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa). "If we don't stop the degradation, there are not going to be many good natural spots to go to much longer," Ferrar said. The aims of the proposed alliance is to fight for the environmental integrity of the country and for sustainable development. The conference followed months of separate meetings by increasingly frantic environmental groups. They met in the Mpumalanga Lakes District, under serious threat of coal mining; the Loskop Dam catchment area where rivers have been killed by acid drainage from old coal mines; the Seringveld north-east of Tshwane where uncontrolled sand mining is destroying the landscape and river systems; and the Wild Coast where a dune-mining application from an Australian company is pending. The government and the mining houses came under strong attack for their disregard of environmental concerns despite environmental protective laws, notably the National Environmental Management Act (Nema). Provincial and local authorities, too, were criticised for the way bad planning and inaction was causing raw sewage to foul up rivers and underground water. The fear is that the government's professed policy of sustainable development has switched to one that drives growth regardless of the impact it is having on what remains of the natural environment. One of the conveners of the meeting, environmental activist Mariette Liefferink, said the time has come to hold the mining industry responsible for environmental damage and the government for failing its mandate to protect the environment. Accusations were made by several speakers of collusion between the department of minerals and energy and the mining houses. This resulted in uncontrolled operations, and neither doing anything about destructive consequences like the acid mine drainage that has killed aquatic life in the Wilge River running through the Ezemvelo Reserve and the Olifants River inlet to the Loskop Dam. It was claimed that the state of some rivers had become a health threat to adjoining communities and their livestock. Some farmers could not grow vegetables watered from polluted rivers because the market would reject such products. And mine dumps left uncovered by vegetation were sending choking dust clouds over large regions, causing a health hazard to many communities. Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk and his department were not spared the conservationists' wrath either. They were accused of not acting and of not even responding to concerned conservationists' approaches. Bizos told the meeting that there were legal remedies. But irrefutable facts were needed for cases to be taken to court. He has found academics to be very willing to assist in such cases. He noted that the high court had ruled that communities could on the basis of common interest, such as having their drinking water polluted, have their case admitted to court as a group. "Our courts take their function seriously of protecting people's fundamental rights." But Bizos cautioned against believing that developments like mining could be stopped - but it had to be ensured that such activities took place in accordance with the prescribed procedures. There could not be a gung-ho approach that mining was going to happen, whatever the consequences. "A balance has to be struck," he said. The conference was told that a sign of the power shift in government was a proposed amendment to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. It would exempt the Department of Minerals and Energy and its activities from the provisions of the country's master environmental law, Nema. The proposed amendment has been put on ice, apparently because of a tussle over it between the two departments.
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