WOSA: Sandmining on Paardeberg ‘a true blow’
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) has described the decision of the Swartland Municipality to grant two new sandmining licences on the Paardeberg as “a true blow” to the region’s winemakers.
In a joint statement with winemakers’ representative body VinPro, WOSA CEO Siobhan Thompson said that “due consideration” must be given to the damage sandmining operations could do to wine and tourism interests in the area.
As reported in the drinks business this week, the Swartland Municipality took the decision to grant two new licences for sandmining on Paardeberg 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 joined together as the Protect the Paardeberg Coalition, which has been involved in a two-year legal fight against the proposals.
On Thursday a coalition of Swartland winemakers, farmers and other interested parties launched a petition against the municipality’s decision.
The joint statement from WOSA and VinPro on Friday said that an increase in sandmining in the Paardeberg area “might have a detrimental effect on wine tourism and South Africa’s reputation as a producer of top quality wines”, adding that such mining activity posed “an increasing threat” – especially in cases where it was done illegally.
Two legal sandmining sites are currently operational in the Swartland region, while a further two have just been approved by the Swartland Municipality – a decision the Protect the Paardeberg Coalition has been given 21 days to appeal against. One further sandmining operation is also being considered for approval.
Martin Coetzee, who represents the Protect Paardeberg Coalition, said that though sandmining developments in the Paardeberg are currently isolated and limited, new mining permits would create a precedent that could have a considerable negative effect on the sustainability of the wine and wine tourism industries.
The WOSA/VinPro statement highlighted that wine tourism and the expansion of South Africa’s quality packaged wine segment are both targets of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (Wise) – an industry-wide plan to make South Africa’s wine industry more profitable and sustainable.
“The decision to grant mining permits in the Swartland region comes as a true blow to the regional wine fraternity, who have worked hard over the past 10 years to establish themselves both locally and internationally as top quality wine producers and [have been] getting immense acclaim for their produce,” Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa said.
“Due consideration to the full extent of the damage to both the wine and tourism industries should be given before soils are lost and damage is done to the wine industry and the broader agriculture sector.”
Rico Basson, managing director of VinPro, added: “Sustainable development is a crucial pillar of the South African wine industry. Any developments that may damage the environment will be strongly opposed. We condemn illegal activities and where there have been transgressions, the law must take its course.”
Concerning the appeal against the granting of sandmining licences, on Thursday 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.”
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