Cape Town to set up Coastal Protection Zone

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cape Town - In a bid to prevent further degradation of Cape Town's world famous coastline, the City has recommended that urgent steps be taken to establish a Coastal Protection Zone.

A dedicated unit to manage the coastal environment will also be appointed.

In a report to the Planning and Environment Portfolio Committee (PEPCO), the City's Environmental Resource Management Department warned that the coastline was under increasing threat from over-development and rising sea levels.

Alderman Brian Watkyns, Chairperson of PEPCO said: "The city's 307km coastline, from Silwerstroomstrand near Atlantis to Gordon's Bay, is arguably one of its greatest economic, social and environmental assets.

"Yet, all areas outside the recreational nodes are effectively 'unmanaged space' with no line function taking full responsibility for its management. Moreover, due to the high demand for sea-front property, the coastline has been extensively altered by 'strip' development."

This has led to problems such as land erosion and the permanent destruction of sand dune systems currently experienced in Hout Bay, Milnerton, Llandudno, Table View and Strand.

"The establishment of a Coastal Protection Zone is in line with the new Coastal Management Bill.

"It will also prioritise the determination of an appropriate development setback line as proposed in the city's Climate Change Sea Level Rise Risk Assessment study," said Mr Watkyns.

The zone is to be mapped according to clear future development options, coastal flood risk areas, the biodiversity network, the replacement of 'strip' development with nodal development, and the protection of environmental processes such as dune systems, windblown sand patterns, climatic conditions and coastal habitats.

"Integrated Coastal Management is highly complex," explained Gregg Oelofse, Head of Environmental Policy and Strategy in the Environmental Resource Management Department.

"Currently the city only has two full time posts dedicated to coastal management and no specific coastal engineering expertise. In comparison, Durban has a dedicated coastal engineering department to oversee its 94km of coastline."

Mr Oelofse said Cape Town's new unit should ideally be led by a qualified coastal engineer and staffed by coastal engineers and natural resource managers who would not replicate the functions of the managers in the city's Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department.

"The Coastal Protection Zone should be managed as a coastal conservancy to protect natural processes whilst supporting appropriate social and recreational activities. It should also be integrated into the City's Spatial Development Frameworks.

"The report recommends that the city formalises a consistent approach to all existing developed areas that are at risk to rising sea levels. This approach should not limit existing development rights, but ensure that developers are aware of their own responsibility in taking up those rights," said Mr Oelofse.

The Environmental Resource Management Department has produced a map of coastal flood risk areas covering Silwerstroomstrand, Melkbosstrand, Bloubergstrand, Big Bay, Table View, Milnerton, Flamingo Vlei, Montague Gardens, Sunset Beach, Lagoon Beach, Maitland, Mowbray, Salt River, Woodstock, City Bowl, Three Anchor Bay, Sea Point, Camps Bay, Bakoven, Llandudno, Hout Bay, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Ocean View, Misty Cliffs, Scarborough, Smitswinkel Bay, Castle Rock, Simon's Town, Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, Muizenberg, Lakeside, Zeekoevlei, Pelican Park, Strandfontein, Wolfgat, Monwabisi, Macassar, Firgrove, Strand and Gordon's Bay.