Another SKA milestone reached with granting of environmental licence

PPA 10200 - SKA-infographic2

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Cape Town – The environmental licence for the construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Phase 1 to proceed in the Northern Cape has been granted.

The Department of Science and Technology welcomed the adoption of the Integrated Environmental Management Plan for phase one of the SKA. Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane gazetted the plan last Friday.

The management plan covers the environmental principles to be followed in the construction and operation of SKA Phase1, the environmental monitoring and control activities to be undertaken, and the long-term research monitoring programmes to be implemented at the SKA site.

This is the first time an environmental instrument of this kind has been adopted at a national level in South Africa.

The department’s astronomy acting chief director Takalani Nemaungani said it was pleased with the conclusion of this process.

Led by the department with the support of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (Sarao), the process involved comprehensive consultation with communities from the towns surrounding the SKA site.

“I would like to thank these communities and municipalities, as well as the stakeholders in various sectors affected by the project, for participating in the meetings and workshop held by the CSIR, which served as the facilitators,” said Nemaungani.

Sarao managing director Dr Rob Adam said the development of the plan was yet another milestone towards the realisation of the SKA mid-frequency array in South Africa.

“It follows just three days after the signing of the SKA Convention, and one month after the approval of the detailed design of the infrastructure and power for the SKA,” Adam said.

The CSIR, an entity of the department, was appointed to undertake the strategic environmental assessment for the SKA Phase 1.

The study, which took three years to complete, covered an area of about 628200ha in the Karoo, falling within the Kareeberg, Hantam, Siyatemba and Karoo-Hoogland local municipalities. The largest towns surrounding the study area are Carnarvon, Williston, Vanwyksvlei and Brandvlei.

The assessment process was guided by a special advisory committee which included key government departments and state agencies.

Additional consultations were held with local and provincial authorities, and with conservation agencies and representatives from other key sectors (civil aviation, defence and heritage resources), to share information and gather input and advice.

The study assessed the impacts that the construction and operation of SKA Phase 1 might have on local agriculture, heritage (including archaeology, paleontology, cultural heritage and the visual landscape), terrestrial ecology and biodiversity, as well as local socio-economic aspects.

Further aspects of sensitivity in terms of defence, telecommunications, weather services, mining, water use, waste management, noise and traffic effects were also investigated in consultation with the relevant authorities.

The gazetted notice is available at:

Cape Times

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