KLEINMOND – Four years of planning and putting a renewable energy project together, 23 permanent jobs and a tourism opportunity may be lost with a decision by Overstrand Municipality not to approve a proposed long-term lease of a portion of portion 1 of Farm No. 562 situated outside Kleinmond (±13,5ha in extent), to Neon Blue (Pty) Ltd.
Overstrand Herald reported earlier in February that this matter was back on the Portfolio Committee for Infrastructure and Economic Development’s agenda after it was referred to the administration by the previous council at its last meeting in October 2021.
Administration recommended that a deviation from paragraph 18 of the Administration of Immovable Property Policy of 2015 be approved by Council to allow the municipality to enter a long-term lease at a rental amount of R8,500.00 per month.
No reasons were provided for “Council’s” decision.
Overstrand Herald managed to get hold of Neon Blue’s Jonathan Govender, who said he was not aware of this outcome, but suspects that the municipality wants to put the lease out on tender. However, this will be a difficult route to follow as the project was initiated with a request for interest between Neon Blue and the municipality four years ago.
In the report Town Planner, Hanneen van der Stoep, mentioned that the property is zoned for Authority Use, which will allow a renewable energy plant as a consent use. She also stated that there are issues regarding the coastal management line and environmental overlay that need to be discussed with the Environmental Section and that an EIA will be necessary. A visual study to establish the impact of such a venture, especially towards the Palmiet estuary, will also be needed.
From the operational side it was pointed out that the existing Kleinmond Wastewater Treatment Plant is situated on the same property. An upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant is planned soon on the same footprint as the existing plant and is currently in the environmental impact assessment phase.
Longer term future upgrades of the wastewater treatment plant may require additional land but apparently the proposed lease area as indicated on the locality plan posed not a problem if it is not increased at any stage.
It was also stated that the proposed solar plant would not have any negative impacts on the operations of the wastewater treatment plant.
Apart from the possibility that the rental income can be increased with an open tender, there seems to be no other hurdles in the way for this very necessary project, especially in these days where DA municipalities are trying to get less dependent for their power supply from Eskom.