Environment department approves application for road through Meerhof

The North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) last week authorised the development of an access road from Estate D’ Afrique on the south side of the Hartbeespoort Dam over the mountain crest to Meerhof.

The proposed road to Meerhof

The road will enable residents of the estate on the R104 to access Hartbeespoort through Meerhof. It will join the estate to James Street in Meerhof. The proposed road route is situated across the foot of a ridge of the Witwatersberg, adjacent to the Hartbeespoort Dam

DEDECT has authorised the clearance of 5330 m² indigenous vegetation for the proposed 460 m, 6-meter-wide road.

The access road will continue from Meerhof straight over the mountain crest towards the estate. The proposed access road will be sealed and will extend about 460 metres long and about 6 metres wide which will include both lanes and associated embankments. The area of the proposed fence security road is about 396 m2 with a width of 4 m

The road will go through properties owned by Manpark (Pty) Ltd, Transnet Limited and the Republic of South Africa.
The environmental authorisation is valid for the next five years.

In the motivation for the construction of the road, Estate D’ Afrique cites the current limited access to a single entry / exit point onto the R104 (Necsa road). According to the proposal, the establishment of the road will enable ease of accessibility to the estate from the Meerhof area and the ease of movement and safety of vehicles commuting into and out of the estate. It states that the proposed access road will not have any significant impact to the society and local municipality in general and will also provide easier access to emergency services, as well as provide an exit route away from Necsa in the event of an incident at the plant.

According to the Estate d’ Afrique draft basic assessment report, submitted in November 2019, the proposed road will be wider than 4 metres with a reserve of approximately 12 meters. The report states that “not proceeding with the proposed access road development is not reasonable considering that the residents of the estate will be deprived of accessing the Meerhof and Hartbeespoort communities and will be limited to the use of one access road towards the R104 which could result in them being trapped during an emergency situation (flood/fire/Pelindaba).”

It said blasting of large rocks and boulders will done using chemical means and unlike traditional explosives there is no danger of flying rock or debris.

Eighty-six mammal species were found to possibly occur within the QDS, most of which have a Least Concern Red List Status. Fourteen species is classified within the National Red Data List, but only six of these are expected to potentially occur within the area due to the habitat found within the area, i.e. hedgehogs, serval, Vlei Rat, Percival’s short-eared trident bat, Long-fingered bat and African clawless otters.