Jan 31 2013

Who to lobby to keep the Karoo unfracked

Published by at 4:20 pm under Opinion,South Africa,Top Stories

Every country which gives in to the oil company lobby and the promise of cheap energy, is a step closer to a fracked-up Karoo. The latest step in that direction was taken when France turned pro-fracking a few weeks ago. Until then, France strengthened the case of anti-fracking organisations, such as the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (here).

That bulwark’s gone now and we seem to be sliding ever closer to the inevitable.  

Until now anti-groups have been lobbying government. And building opposition in the population as a whole.

My question: as the inevitable draws closer, shouldn’t the anti-groups change their strategy and start lobbying the all-important group (ie. the group that will eventually decide just how fracked up our Karoo ends up) namely, the farmers (owners of the land)?

To date, I haven’t seen any efforts started/initiated by farm owners in the Karoo. That seems strange to me. In my view, the strongest, most credible resistance would come from the people closest to the danger, ie. the farmers.

Apart from Johann Rupert’s effort, there hasn’t been a sound from the farmers (farm owners) to date. Could it (perhaps) be that many land owners in the Karoo are simply waiting for the moment they can make a lot of money out of their “week-end farms”? Has anyone conducted a poll under land owners to ascertain how many owners are opposed to fracking, and will NOT sell out to Shell?

No? Well, then it’s high-time. Before one can fight something off, one needs to understand it. Then the farmers can/should start organizing themselves. The best way to keep Shell (and others) out of the Karoo, is for the farmers to stand together and convey the message “we won’t allow you on our farms”.

I realize it is unrealistic to think that ALL farmers would want to turn Shell away. But, there will at least be large “patches” of earth which could be “saved” in this way, if neighbours, or local communities could agree among themselves to unite against fracking. In the same way neighbours sometimes agree to stop farming and “combine” their farms into a single “conservation area/nature reserve” (I forget the correct legal description now).

In this way, “anti-fracking regions” could be formed with extra “tourism value”. For example, if all the farmers around and on all sides of the Swartberg Nature Reserve agreed to “abstain” from fracking, while it was done everywhere else, this part of the Karoo/Klein-Karoo would have a leg up on other Karoo destinations in the tourism market.

With an up-to-date record of farmers who “sold out” the Karoo and its million-year heritage to Shell for a better-looking bank account, a “not-with-us attitude” and “peer pressure” can grow out of the farming community, which will make it more difficult for the next-door neighbour to “give in to Mammon”, so to speak.

The owners of farmland in the Karoo is our last bastion against an “industrialised Karoo”. If they don’t mobilise themselves, then the Karoo will most certainly turn into an industrial area.

PS. I’m assuming (correct me if I’m wrong) that the SA property law gives farmers ownership of what is in the soil. Also the rights to minerals. No matter how deep down. If that is correct, the Treasure the Karoo Action Group, and other similar anti-groups, should change tack, and start lobbying the next (and last) bastion in the way of a fracked Karoo, an area which should (in fact) have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site long ago.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Who to lobby to keep the Karoo unfracked”

  1. adminon 01 Feb 2013 at 11:06 pm

    One of these ten criteria must be met to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, or a “cultural landscape”:


    I see at least one which fits. Do you see any? Remember, it’s not only about “natural beauty”, but also about “man’s interaction with nature”. And that’s why I think the Karoo has a chance.


  2. jeanielon 11 Feb 2013 at 9:15 am

    In South Africa, mineral rights do not belong to landowners. Mineral rights are owned by the state.

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