Proposed Nuclear Plant Site
The national electricity supplier Eskom, aided and abetted by the National Government, has earmarked Bantamsklip, near Gansbaai, on the southwestern Overberg coast as one of the preferred sites for its nuclear power station ‘roll out’. The process gives neither regard to public opinion nor takes cogniscence of the countless fatal flaws in the choice of the site, which are becoming increasingly evident with environmental impact assessments and feasibility studies. Initially a single 4000 mega watt nuclear plant – a European Pressurized Reactor (EPN) was proposed, now two such plants are envisaged for Bantamsklip. The problem is, the site lies within the hottest internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot, presently registered as a S A Natural Heritage Site and a Historic Monument, and adjacent to the most valuable marine ecosystem in Africa, the Dyer Island Nature Reserve and Great White Shark Marine Sanctuary. The nuclear power plant and the resulting power lines would destroy the livelihoods of virtually everybody dependent on the natural environment of the area and seriously impact on the eco-tourism industry of the Cape Whale Route and the Fynbos route.
The proposed nuclear power plant will spread out its power lines and cut the Agulhas National Park and the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area (SMA) in two, destroying the vision of rehabilitating and conserving this wetland system through co-operative integrated land management. The power lines are set to traverse major scenic corridors on the R326/R43 and areas of great scenic value such as the historic Stanford Village and Stanford Valley, 35 kilometers from the heart of Hermanus. Both scenic categories are surveyed heritage, scenic and landscape resources, underwritten and legislated upon in the Overstrand Heritage Survey. According to the draft scoping report, Eskom’s preferred route for the Bantamsklip Transmission Line, known as Alternative Route 2, will fatally dissect the unique Flower Valley and Baardskeerdersbos rural hamlet surroundings, with an army of giant pylons and magnetic pollution of unimaginable proportions.
Bantamsklip and Groot Hagelkraal are found on the ancient landscape of the Chainoukwa Khoi-san people and are both a registered SA Nature Foundation Natural Heritage Site (No: 72) and a registered Historical Monument. Present research indicates that Groot Hagelkraal farm harbours over 800 plant species, including 22 Red Data species of Agulhas Plain endemics, of which six are entirely restricted to the farm. Most of the endemics are associated with limestone soils. Rare and endemic species are often clustered in so-called hot-spots. Such a concentration of endemic plants is without parallel, not only elsewhere in the Cape Floristic Region, but in the world. This property ranks as the most extreme concentration of “point endemism” recorded anywhere in the world! The property represents the foremost conservation priority in the Cape Floristic Region and is regarded as the world’s “hottest” of biodiversity hot spots
The Agulhas bioregion hosts the greatest number of South African marine endemics, including sparid reef fish, octocorals and algae and is a nursing ground for many fish species. The coastline constitutes an overlap zone with the mixing area of two currents and is widely recognized as an independent province and bioregion. The Agulhas Biozone (coastal and marine areas containing Bantamsklip and Dyer Island) scores high on the threatened coastal lists and is gaining recognition as a priority area, and in the case of Dyer Island, is a known, irreplaceable category, within the Marine Protected Area (MPA) planning strategy and recommendations.
The cool Benguela upwelling occurs here, causing very high levels of primary nutrient productivity, enhanced by the seasonal south easterly and south westerly prevailing winds and the topography of the Agulhas coast lying adjacent to these climatic and oceanic systems. This lays the foundation for the endemic kelp ecology of the Dyer Island Marine Sanctuary. The Dyer Island Nature Reserve is situated seven kilometers due south of Bantamsklip and is a Great White Shark and seabird sanctuary of global importance. It is a registered IBA recognized as an important breeding ground for a number of endemic Cape seabirds. There are six Red Data bird species breeding on the island, including a large colony of African Penguins. It has the highest concentration of Great White Sharks in the world and is said, that after the Kruger National Park, the Great White Shark attract some of the highest numbers of tourists to South Africa, for any singular activity.
“Pearly Beach towards Bantamsklip”