Massive Karoo Shale Gas Study Begins

Strategic Environmental Assessment, Karoo Shale Gas Fracking

The SEA study area straddles all the Karoo’s current shale gas concessions.

The public consultation part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Shale Gas Development in the Karoo starts on Monday 9 November in Graaff-Reinet.

A large team of scientists from the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and other organisations will be touring major towns in the Karoo, seeking feedback and information from the public as part of the two year study.

The times and places are as follows:

  • Graaff-Reinet’s Masizakhe Community Hall Baartman Square from 4 pm to 7 pm on Monday 9 November 2015;
  • Victoria West Town Hall Church Street, 4 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday 10 November;
  • Beaufort West’s Rustdene Community Hall, De Vries Street, from 4 pm to 7 pm on Wednesday 11 November;
  • Cape Town’s Iziko South African Museum, TH Barry Lecture Theatre, 25 Queen Victoria Street from 10.30 am to 3 pm on 13 November.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a high level study. Unlike an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which looks at impacts on a localised level, an SEA takes a much broader view and looks at how a particular industry or development – in this case hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the Karoo – will affect it on a regional or ecosystem level.

The SEA will be looking at the potential impacts on many interconnected levels, including:

  • Ground and Surface Water;
  • Agriculture;
  • Tourism;
  • Human Health;
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystems;
  • Air Quality;
  • Geophysics;
  • Social Fabric;
  • Heritage Resources;
  • Sense of Place.

This study is commissioned and funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs. They have appointed the CSIR, SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Council for Geosciences to conduct this scientific process, modelled on the highly respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The project is managed by a team from these agencies, plus other national departments and the provincial governments of Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with inputs from district and local municipalities.

A Process Custodian Group composed of individuals from government, industry and civil society has been tasked to ensure the integrity and credibility of the process.

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