As the New Year begins and everyone is switching out their beach attire for something a little more professional, Eco Route would like to take advantage of this opportunity and have our first article of 2017 be one which is beneficial to our entire community. So before you decide to embark on new property developments or home and garden improvements, Eco Route urges you to take cognizance of the Outeniqua Sensitive Coastal Area Extension Regulations and the permit which is required.

 “The Environmental Conservation Act, 1989 (Act 73 of 1989) makes provision for the protection of areas which have particular environmental importance, which are sensitive, or which are under intense pressure from development”. In terms of this legislation, the Garden Route coastal area from Tergeniet in the west to the Kaaimans River in the east was identified and proclaimed as the Outeniqua Sensitive Coastal Area (Outeniqua SCA) in 1997. On 27 November 1998, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism extended the Outeniqua Sensitive Coastal Area to include portions of the areas between the Kaaimans and Bloukrans Rivers. The implication of the OSCA status is that certain activities, which may have a detrimental effect on the environment, are now prohibited unless a permit has been obtained prior to the activity being undertaken. “The OSCA Regulations are aimed at controlling small-scale activities undertaken on an individual plot in an effort to ensure sustainable development of the coast”.

The following scheduled activities would trigger the need for an OSCAER permit:

Disturbance of vegetation (trampling, cutting or removal of vegetation);
Earthworks (excavation, moving, removal, deposit, compacting of soil, sand, rock or rubble);
Dredging (dredging, excavation, removal or moving of soil, sand or rock from a river, tidal lagoon, tidal river, floodplain or wetland); and
Dune rehabilitation (planting on, or covering of dunes or exposed sand surfaces with any vegetative, natural or synthetic material, or the erection of structures and walls thereon with the purpose of preventing the sand from being eroded, accreted or moved by wind or water).

Any person failing to comply with the OSCA Regulations may be found guilty of an offence and would be liable for a fine not exceeding R 100 000,00 and a fine not exceeding three times the commercial value of any property or object of which the offence was committed and / or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years.

Property owners within the Outeniqua Sensitive Areas (Bitou, Knysna, and George Municipalities) would need to verify whether an OSCAER permit is required, prior to the undertaking of the above-mentioned activities. If it is established that your property does require an OSCAER permit, an application form must be completed by, or on behalf of the property owner and be submitted, prior to the submission of, or together with, building plans, to the relevant Municipality. Eco Route may be consulted to both verify whether your property requires an OSCAER permit and to complete the application for the permit, if applicable.