Anti-fracking lobby group, the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), and social rights group AfriForum plan to take their fight against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in South Africa to the Public Protector.
The parties said they would submit a written complaint to the Public Protector by Tuesday after a letter sent to the Presidency, dated July 21, seeking a fresh moratorium on fracking went unacknowledged.
TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal called on President Jacob Zuma to reinstate the moratorium on shale gas mining or face possible legal action amid “unresolved issues” in science and law requiring “proper action” by government prior to presenting shale-gas exploration as a “fait accompli” and an “economic game-changer”.
He earlier indicated that the claims could only be “validated by scientific investigation” and a thorough cost-benefit analysis in which “science could inform policy”.
The alliance had previously warned that should no response emerge from its letter, preparations would be made to take legal steps – the first of which was likely to be triggered should government grant an exploration licence to any of the current applicants.
“We appealed to President Zuma in an effort to ensure that any decision on shale gas by our government is lawfully exercised and in line with the Constitutional rights of South Africans,” said Deal.
However, expressing his unhappiness at the failure of the Presidency to acknowledge TKAG’s letter, Deal said: “It appears that government intends to ignore its critics even when there is very good reason to afford the message serious consideration in the interests of this country.”
“Fracking in the sensitive Karoo poses significant risks which emphasise the importance of proper informed decision-making guided by comprehensive scientific input,” said AfriForum head of environmental affairs Julius Kleynhans, adding that the parties have “chosen to be proactive and open” with government and the applicants for exploration licences.
“We look forward to the findings of the Public Protector,” Kleynhans concluded.