EDTEA passes the buck as developers eye KZN’s protected Virginia Bush

Issued by Heinz de Boer, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on EDTEA
15 Apr 2024 in Press Statements

A written parliamentary reply (view here), to questions by the DA, reveals that KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) will stand aside as developers move in on Durban North’s pristine Virginia Bush.

Situated between Durban North and Glenashley, the protected area is now being eyeballed for extensive luxury homes in an unsolicited bid that will lead to its destruction.

Worryingly, the reply reveals that EDTEA has met with both eThekwini Municipality and the developers to help iron out a “disagreement” between the two parties. The department – under MEC Siboniso Duma – has further confirmed that the municipality and developers have undertaken several site visits and further meetings to “find a sustainable solution to the matter”.

The DA is stunned by eThekwini’s actions after they initially refused the application for development of the protected area. The refusal must be upheld, and no further negotiations or site visits should be entertained.

Moreover, EDTEA has now potentially blurred the lines and brought a conflict of interest into the matter by meeting with developers. As custodians of the Environmental Impact Assessment processes (EIA) – this department must remain impartial and adjudicate any potential future EIA applications purely on impact and merits.

The DA calls on eThekwini Municipality to instead focus its efforts on securing, fencing and further formalising Virginia Bush into a sustainable eco-tourism node.

Ongoing complaints of vagrancy and criminality emanating from the area could quickly be tackled, and the reserve transformed into a safe green lung that could benefit eco-tourism enterprises and the community at large.

The DA will not allow pristine natural areas to be sold out from under the feet of communities to benefit the financial interest of a select few. We urge all nature lovers to join us in fighting the proposed development – and will oppose any attempts at the sale of the reserve and its development at all spheres of government.