Proposed green law 'endangers R5bn V&A plan'

Posted On Thursday, 26 June 2008 02:00 Published by
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Ports body joins buyers' plea for amendment.

Chris van Gass

Cape Correspondent

CAPE TOWN — Lawyers for the consortium that bought Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront from Transnet for R7,1bn have warned that an environmental bill passed in its present form could jeopardise a R5bn plan to develop what has been called “Africa’s Riviera”.

Transnet added its voice yesterday to objections to the Integrated Coastal Management Bill in its present form, designating all coastal land and ports as “coastal public property”. It told the Western Cape government’s standing committee on community development that the legislation would affect its operations severely. Transnet would not be able to meet legal undertakings in the V&A sale agreement.

Of concern are three small parcels of land earmarked for reclamation from the sea that are key to the development of the V&A Waterfront by its new owners, Lexshell. This is a consortium of Dubai government investment company Istithmar, part of the Dubai World group, property investment holding company London & Regional, and Western Cape black economic empowerment shareholders.

The reclamation issue was raised last week at an environmental affairs department presentation to the standing committee, when it was suggested that “ownership” of the V&A entitled Lexshell to reclaim land from the sea.

Local newspapers reported that this could have included all land between Cape Town harbour and Robben Island and already reclaimed land.

However, Transnet moved swiftly yesterday to allay fear of a “Dubai type” holiday island development, saying the three areas earmarked for reclamation were identified in an agreement in 2001 signed by the then owners of the V&A, which included Transnet and its pension funds.

The areas were restricted to those immediately next to the V&A Waterfront, and “do not include the sea areas extending from the Green Point lighthouse to Robben Island”.

National Ports Authority (NPA) CE Khomotso Phihlela said amendments to the bill were required to ensure Transnet could continue to undertake important infrastructural development of ports under its NPA division. Changes were also needed to ensure Transnet could comply with its existing “contractual and other obligations” to third parties involving ports under the control of NPA.

In addition, amendments were required to ensure that Transnet was able to comply with its existing contractual obligations to Lexshell when it came to the reclamation of land from the sea immediately adjoining the waterfront.

Hendrik Kotze, Lexshell’s lawyer, said if the bill went through in its present form it would take away the state’s ability to give ownership of the V&A Waterfront to Lexshell as well as to acquire ownership “pursuant to contractual rights that we purchased”.

Source: Business Day

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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