Advasol/Golder Meeting: Ask your questions but don’t expect replies, just polite nodding, note taking and vague explanations.

The meeting in Cape Town today started with a Golder ‘explanation’ that this was a ‘public open meeting but not actually public participation meeting’. That more or less set the tone for what was to follow. I got the feeling that I was there as part of a ‘box ticking’ process. Essentially, Advasol stated that their intention was to supply Mosgas with new gas reserves and that this was ‘good for the country as a whole’. From my perspective, there were lots of questions and very few straight and clear answers. Lots of process confusion. And lots of attempts to reassure with unspecific words like ‘as far as possible’. Basically, everything was ‘up to PASA’ to decide which was frustrating since PASA was not in the meeting.
Nevertheless, some important questions were asked. Some included:
• How can the I&AP’s trust Advasol and Golder since the process had been not been effectively run and very few of the land owners were actually contacted?
• What experience does Advasol have in Gas Drilling? (None it seems!)
• Is it sufficient that a candidate landscape architect sign off an important report of this nature?
• What financial reserves does Advasol have to deal with a potential mistake/clean up?
• Why is a Generic EMP being submitted? And will the public have an opportunity to comment on a more specific EMP?
• Why were Advasol allegedly trespassing?
• Does Advasol plan to use ‘Hydraulic Fracturing’ and what are the environmental risks of this process?
• What will trigger the NEMA requirement for an EIA? And will further public participation actually take place?
• Why didn’t Advasol contact Hessequa Municipality to get the names and addresses of all the affected land owners?
• What do other geological reports say?
• What will the impact be on Whales of the noise pollution?
• How will Golder be communicating with people living in the area who may not be as familiar with the legal process?
• Why were the 13000 people of Stillbaai left out of the process?
• What will the overall impact be should Gas be discovered and who will pay for things like repairs and maintenance of roads in the area?
Advasol did try to give assurances that they would not impact on undisturbed land or on the pristine coastal strip. They assured the meeting that the ‘big company’ that would actually do the drilling would have enough insurance to deal with any potential mishap.
All in all unsatisfactory, I left the meeting more worried than before.
What did others think?

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