Landowners in a stink over proposed abattoir waste site
... but those in favour of the new facility say it it will be a huge investment opportunity for the area
Buying property next door to an industrial abattoir waste dump is not what Pierre Gerber had in mind when he invested in the foothills of the Langeberge.
Gerber is one of several landowners in the rural outskirts of Robertson appealing this month’s decision by the Western Cape government to approve a land use application for an abattoir waste facility in their rural neighbourhood. Three other approvals are still needed, but jittery landowners fear the project could spell disaster for the local tourist industry.The organic dump project is driven by a local businessman and farmer Hennie de Bod who uses waste from his Robertson abattoir to make organic compost on his property in nearby Nuy. De Bod wants to significantly expand his current operation, which is capped at 10 tons of abattoir waste – including blood, intestines and other forms of offal.But Gerber and other objectors believe the facility, if approved, would act as a magnet for organic waste throughout the region, thereby turning a pristine area into a busy waste disposal hub.
“There are a lot of chicken farms and other abattoirs, and they will also come and dump here if (De Bod’s) fees are less,” said Gerber. “You won’t be able to close the gate once you’ve opened it – it is a no-go,” he said.
Hanneré Jooste, who owns the private nature reserve adjoining De Bod’s property, this week confirmed she had appealed province’s rezoning decision. In her initial objection to the project Jooste claimed she was affected by bad odours and a marked increase in flies since dumping began. She has also objected to a proposed dam project on De Bod’s farm which also awaits approval.However, the project appears to enjoy the in-principle support of the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP) which has adopted a policy of diverting organic waste from landfill sites to farms where it can be treated or “beneficiated”.
“Composting of organic waste takes place on numerous farms throughout the province,” said Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, DEADP communications chief.
“Should this facility be approved it can reduce the impact of organic waste on the environment. Organic waste will not be disposed at a landfill where the methane will be released in the open air, but be beneficiated/treated at the composting facility,” Van Jaarsveldt said. “This is definitely not a waste dump. In fact it is a strategic facility for the region because the organic waste of the Municipality will also be treated here as the Municipality does not have a facility available to treat this waste type.”
Gerber said it was clear the plan was to use De Bod’s farm as a regional dump for all manner of waste, from a variety of sources: “There are other abattoirs and chicken farms around here. Once (De Bod) has permisison, can you imagine what will happen? All that shit will go there,” Gerber said.He said there was a similar situation in the Drakenstein municipality which was looking at building a massive incinerator to dispose of waste imported from other towns.
“At the end of the day this (facility) is bad for the area,” Gerber said. “They (government) can expropriate land if they don’t have enough for the municipal dump, or get something closer to the tar road.”
Langeberg Municipality municipal manager Soyisile Mokweni confirmed De Bod’s project still needed municipal land use planning approval, environmental approval by DEADP, and Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation approval for the dam project, Mokweni said.
De Bod insists his expanded business is a huge investment opportunity for the region. One local farmer said the organic waste produced on site was of superior quality. However during a site visit earlier this year other affected stakeholders questioned whether Nuy was the appropriate venue for a major waste facility.