‘Protect the Paardeberg’ petition launched

A coalition of Swartland winemakers, farmers and other interested parties have launched a petition against the local municipality’s decision to permit sandmining operations on the Paardeberg mountain.

The petition comes a day after db reported on the decision of the Swartland Municipality to grant two new licences for sandmining on Paardeberg, a decision reported to have been taken on 10 February.

Swartland winemakers such as Eben Sadie and Adi Badenhorst, along with members of the Swartland Independent winemakers group, local farmers and other interested parties, have been involved in a two-year fight against the proposals.

Yesterday Eben Sadie told db: “We were absolutely gobsmacked that this was granted. We actually can’t understand, with where this place is going, how they can allow that. It’s not cohesive with where the future of this place is viewed. It’s completely taken the wind out of our sails.”

The ‘Protect the Paardeberg’ coalition they have formed argues that mining is not compatible with the wine landscape of the Paardeberg and threatens to undo the 20 years’ worth of work done to establish Swartland as a prized viticultural region, as well as being an environmental blight that will discouraging further investment.

The coalition has been given 21 days to appeal against the decision of the municipality. It intends to present its petition to a municipality tribunal at the end of that appeal period.

A statement from the Swartland Municipality said: “The municipality tribunal’s decision is currently subject to an appeal process. The issuing of a general statement in this regard is presently being considered by the municipality.”

The Protect the Paardeberg petition states: “We demand that Swartland Municipality reverse its granting of permits for sandmining on the Paardeberg.

“The Paardeberg is a sprawling granitic mountain in the Swartland area of the Western Cape in South Africa, near the town of Malmesbury. It got its Dutch name “Horse Mountain” from the zebra-like animals which once roamed here. Today, the higher reaches are still covered with natural vegetation, but the kloofs (valleys) and lower slopes are home to innumerable grapevines. Rutted gravel roads lead to the dotted farmhouses and wineries. This century, the Paardeberg has been the focus of an extraordinary revolution in winemaking, ensuring that it, and the Swartland have become internationally famous for its wines.

“But the rural atmosphere and the viticultural heritage of the Paardeberg is being violently threatened, and the responsible authorities are allowing it to happen.

“The Paardeberg is being targeted by sand-mining companies and a few farmers are willing to allow the area to be despoiled in exchange for, of course, profit.

“A crucial stage in getting permits for such mining operations is getting permission from the local authorities. Despite detailed objections, the Swartland Municipality has now (February 2017) given permission for mining activities on two farms in the area – an awful precedent: how many more will follow?

“The Protect the Paardeberg Coalition has been formed by farmers in the area, with other individuals and organisations to fight any exploitation that would lead to the degradation of its agricultural potential, and its biodiversity. We will fight any attempts to crowd the Paardeberg’s roads with massive sand-bearing trucks and to scatter the area with unsightly sand pits that destroy its nature and potential.”

The full Protect the Paardeberg petition can be viewed here.

3 Responses to “‘Protect the Paardeberg’ petition launched”

  1. Sarah Simoni says:

    Think ahead for once! Don’t destroy this wonderful area for a quick buck.

  2. Mahmoud Ali says:

    Surely a project that harms the economic interests of other businesses, wineries and tourism, is a poor choice, especially as these businesses put in the time, effort and moneyu to establish the reputation of the area.

  3. Edwin Doran says:

    It is fantastic that Eben and Adi, with many others, are collectively taking such positive action. Whilst we are situated in the Voor Paardeberg, we join with them in the struggle. We have to – one of our brands is Horse Mountain!!

    Edwin Doran
    Doran Vineyards.

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