ATC160413: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the hearing of the Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Association Petition, held at Parliament, on 27 January 2016 and 16 March 2016
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS AND EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE HEARING OF THE OUDTSHOORN RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION PETITION, HELD AT PARLIAMENT, ON 27 JANUARY 2016 AND 16 MARCH 2016
The Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Association petition (petition) was referred by the Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee) on 25 March 2015 and later tabled in the ATC on 30 March 2015.
The petition was submitted to the Chairperson of the NCOP by the Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Association (ORPA) and pertains to the unlawful and unregulated establishment of flight training operations over the residential environments of Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape Province.
1.1 Content of the Petition
In the petition ORPA alleges that, since February 2012, it has along with AfriForum, Die Oudtshoorn Burgelike Beweging and other interested and affected parties, been seeking urgent intervention with regards to the unprocedural manner in which the bid process and associated arrangements were conducted by the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality (Municipality) when it established flight training operations over the residential environments of Oudtshoorn. The petition further alleges that ORPA has made numerous attempts to engage the relevant Municipal and Provincial administration in this regard but to no avail.
The petition further levels the following allegations of maladministration against the Municipality in this regard:
1.1.1 The Municipality has failed to observe due and proper municipal management processes as mandated by the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 and as set out in the Patel Report (prepared at the request of the Municipality and adopted by the Municipal Council in July 2012);
1.1.2 The Municipality has denied proper and transparent public participation in not allowing a proper open forum for residents and established stakeholders to engage and address their concerns;
1.1.3 The Municipality refuses to conduct a proper Environmental Impact Assessment and the residents of Oudtshoorn were assured by both the Provincial Government and Oudtshoorn Municipality that this would be done;
1.1.4 The Municipality refuses to conduct a proper risk management analysis on safety issues and a physical, mental health and safety study into the effects of repetitive low level flight training traffic over the residential environments of Oudtshoorn;
1.1.5 The Municipality refuses to apply the local by laws governing noise pollution and nuisance and also refuses to assess the general property risk and hazards associated with the flight training school operations; and
1.1.6 The Municipality refuses to consider or assess the detrimental effect the flight training operations are having on property values and the negative effects they will have on the hospitality business in the town and region.
1.2 Relief Sought in the Petition
On the basis of the allegations levelled against the Municipality, the petition requests the following relief from the NCOP:
1.2.1 That the current arrangements be stopped immediately and that transparent, due, proper and lawful processes be employed in determining the appropriateness of the flight training school operations over the established residential environments of Oudtshoorn.
1.2.2 Alternatively, the operators of the flight training school be compelled to relocate their businesses away from the built-up environment of the town, to one of their many other and more suitable ”bases” in the Western Cape Province.
1.2.3 That the statement made, 4 years ago by the-then Corporate Services Director of the Municipality, that the Oudtshoorn airfield has resulted in a hazardous and unacceptable environmental impact and that it be moved elsewhere out of town, be given effect to.
1.2.4 That the findings of the Patel Report, produced at the behest of the Municipality, be implemented and the recommendations of the unapproved Spatial Development Framework Plan for 2014/5 (both of which conclude that the flight training school operations pose an unacceptable and negative environmental impact), be taken into account.
1.2.5 That the Municipality be held accountable for damages arising from the direct loss of amenities of life; devaluation in property values; revenue losses by the affected hospitality businesses; and general and actual damages for health-related issues suffered by some residents as a direct result of the flight training school operations.
1.2.6 That those councillors, directors and managers directly involved in and responsible for having “promoted” the flight training operations outside of their mandates and in contravention of the applicable municipal regulations, be censured appropriately.
2. HEARINGS ON THE PETITION
The Committee held two hearings on the ORPA petition. The first hearing on the petition was held on 27 January 2016 and the second hearing was held on 16 March 2016.
The purpose of the first hearing was to allow the petitioner to make first hand oral submissions, to the Committee, on the petition submitted to the NCOP and to further allow relevant stakeholders to make submissions on the petition.
The purpose of the second hearing, much like the purpose of the first hearing, was to allow additional stakeholders, namely the National Department of Transport and the South African Civil Aviation Authority, to make oral submissions on the petition and ultimately conclude the hearing on the petition.
3. FIRST HEARING ON THE PETITION
3.1 Committee Members and Officials
The following Committee Members were present at the first hearing on the petition:
3.1.1 Hon S G Thobejane, ANC, Limpopo (Chairperson of the Committee);
3.1.2 Hon M J Mohapi, ANC, Free State;
3.1.3 Hon J M Mthethwa, ANC, Kwa-Zulu Natal;
3.1.4 Hon G M Manopole, ANC, Northern Cape;
3.1.5 Hon D L Ximbi, ANC, Western Cape;
3.1.6 Hon B Engelbrecht, DA, Gauteng; and
3.1.7 Hon G Michalakis, DA, Free State;
The Committee Members, present at the hearing, were supported by the following Committee officials:
3.1.8 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;
3.1.9 Dr M Gondwe, the Committee Content Advisor; and
3.1.10 Ms A Zindlani, the Committee Assistant, and
3.1.11 Ms N Fakier, Executive Secretary.
The first hearing on the petition was also attended by the following relevant stakeholders:
3.2.1 Mr R Keene and Ms L Pelham, representatives of ORPA;
3.2.2 Mr K Chetty, Administrator of Oudtshoorn Municipality;
3.2.3 Mr A Mohamed, Chief Director, Department of Environmental Affairs and Developmental
Planning, Western Cape Province; and
3.2.4 Mr L Kula, Environmental Officer, Department of Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning, Western Cape Province.
3.3 Submissions by the Oudtshoorn Rate Payers Association
Mr Keene introduced himself as a member of the Oudtshoorn Rate Payers Association (ORPA) and the Oudtshoorn Local Management Committee and explained that submission of the petition and his appearing before the Committee should not be viewed as a personal crusade but rather as an effort to represent the concerns of a number of affected stakeholders. He further submitted that ORPA would not have submitted the petition had there been proper administrative and substantive processes followed in relation to the establishment of the flight training school by Avic International Flight Training Association (AIFA). However what happened is that the proper administrative and substantive processes were abandoned to the detriment of the constitutional rights of members of ORPA and this ultimately led to a private company establishing major flight training operations in close proximity to a residential environment.
In his submissions, Mr Keene also stated that the flight training operations complained of, give rise to approximately 130 flights a day or aircrafts flying in and flying out of Oudtshoorn Airport (Airport) every 2 and half minutes, at a height of 500ft above their houses. Furthermore, the aerodrome is situated plus or minus 60 metres away from the local primary school and right in the middle of town. In addition, the runway threshold is barely 70 metres from the playground of the primary school. The close proximity of the flight training school operations to the built up environment of the town, has further meant that in the event of an emergency landing there is no escape route for members of the public and aircrafts can easily land on a building. Mr Keene also informed the Committee that future expansion plans for the flight training school operations are set to include flying quasi-military jet, helicopter training and Boeing 737s and this posed a serious safety risk.
Mr Keene also submitted that ORPA had sought intervention at both a provincial and local level but to no avail. And this is evidenced by the fact that ORPA has amassed a total of 9 box files full of correspondence between it and numerous local and provincial departments or bodies. Also according to Mr Keene, ORPA’s attempts to solicit intervention in this regard, have resulted in the Municipality blocking their email communication, hanging up on their calls and accusing ORPA of harassing its officials.
Mr Keene further submitted that notwithstanding that Oudtshoorn has been designated a world heritage town along with its surrounds, it continues to be negatively impacted by the operations of the flight training school, which is not only foreign owned but is also paying the Municipality an amount of less than USD12 000 a year to operate from the Airport. He further noted that although ORPA understands that the Municipality has to create investment opportunities for the benefit of its residents, the establishment of the flight training school was not discussed at a public forum and ORPA was only engaged on the matter after it voiced its complaints through the section 24G process facilitated by the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA). Mr Keene also informed the Committee that ORPA’s initial complaints around the establishment of the flight training school had not been appropriately addressed before the section 24G process.
In concluding his submissions, Mr Keene emphasised that the establishment of the flight training school in such close proximity to the residential environments of Oudtshoorn has resulted in disturbing and psychologically impairing noise levels. Further according to Mr Keene, as residents of Oudtshoorn they are woken up by the sound of aircrafts and go to sleep with the sound of aircrafts. He further emphasised that the flight training school was established in the absence of a proper public participation or consultative process and the section 24G process conducted by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning (Department) was chaired by an entity appointed by the individuals running the flight training school and neither ORPA nor the Department were adequately represented in the process.
In relation to the relief sought by ORPA, Mr Keene submitted that ORPA would like the flight training school operations to be suspended until such a time that an amicable agreement is reached by all the relevant stakeholders. He further submitted that alternatively, ORPA would like the flight training school operations to be relocated to a base outside of town.
Mr Keene further informed the Committee, that Mr K Chetty, the administrator of the Municipality, had promised ORPA that a full forensic audit will be conducted by the Municipality and ORPA hoped this audit will get to the root of how the flight training school was allowed to operate in such close proximity to the residential environment of Oudtshoorn. In addition, Mr Keene informed the Committee that ORPA is reluctant to spend millions of rands on a court action in relation to the issues raised in the petition when these issues can easily be resolved if the proper administrative and substantive processes are followed.
Mr Keene also observed that one of the recommendations in the Patel Report is that the flight training school be relocated to a more suitable base and as ORPA they are concerned that the recommendations of the Patel Report have not been implemented. He further informed the Committee, that the Office of the Public Protector is also involved in the matter and it had written to the Municipality in an effort to determine why the recommendations of the Patel Report has not been implemented.
He further implored the Committee, to also ensure that the recommendations set out in the unapproved 2014/15 Spatial Development Plan (SDP) be implemented because the SDP established that the location of the flight training school has a negative environmental impact on the town. Lastly, Mr Keene informed the Committee that ORPA also sought damages for those individuals negatively impacted by the operation of the flight school and such damages relate to, amongst others, revenue losses, devaluation losses and losses associated with health related problems.
3.4 Submissions by the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality
During the hearing on the petition, the Committee also heard submissions from Mr K Chetty (Mr Chetty), who made submissions on behalf of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality (Municipality).
Mr Chetty introduced himself to the Committee as the Administrator of the Municipality. He further indicated that he is appointed by both National and Provincial Government to resolve the challenges facing the Municipality such as the lack of a credible budget, the high level of debt and poor service delivery. He further stated that he was appointed as Administrator at the beginning of October 2015 and as such he still is a long way to go in ensuring the Municipality is functioning in a sustainable and viable manner. Mr Chetty further submitted that the petition was one of the many issues he is tasked with resolving submitted that as the Administrator of the Municipality and that is why he took the decision to appoint a forensic team to look into the issues raised in the petition, particularly, the local government issues.
In his submissions, Mr Chetty also drew the Committee to the fact that the issues in the petition have to also be considered in terms of Constitution. In this regard, Mr Chetty explained that the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), an entity of the National Department of Transport, is mandated to deal with matters relating to flight routes, aircrafts, control towers and the like. He further explained that the issue of noise pollution, raised in the petition, fell within the competence of both the Local and Provincial Government whereas the environmental health issues fell within the competence of the District Municipality.
In his submissions, Mr Chetty also responded to some of the specific allegations raised in the petition and made during oral submissions by Mr Keene.
In response to the allegation of the unlawful establishment of the flight training operations, Mr Chetty informed the Committee that the flight training school existed by virtue of a lease agreement concluded between the Municipality and the Oudtshoorn Aero Club (Aero Club). Further in his submissions, Mr Chetty acknowledged that the Municipality owns the Airport and further noted that, as such, the Airport is reflected in the Municipality’s asset register. He however also explained that although the Municipality owns the Airport, the operations of the Airport fell within the competence of SACAA as the relevant licensing authority. He further acknowledged that there is indeed a by law applicable to the aerodrome but clarified that the by law only applies to the buildings of the aerodrome and not its operations. The operations of the aerodrome, according to Mr Chetty, are subject to both the Provincial and National legislation regulating the actual operations of the aerodrome and this legislation is overseen by the National Department of Transport and SACAA. Mr Chetty further noted that Municipal records indicate that the Municipality had complied with asset transfer regulations and public participation processes prior to it letting out the Airport and that a Municipal Council decision was taken around the leasing of the Airport to the Aero Club.
As regards the allegation that a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not conducted by the Municipality prior to the establishment of the flight training school, Mr Chetty explained that the EIA is not a municipal competency. He further explained that the Provincial Government had examined the plans relating to the establishment of the flight school and undertaken the necessary EIA. Furthermore, the objections to the plans had been dealt with by the relevant Provincial department in terms of section 24G of NEMA.
With regards to the allegation that the Municipality had failed to conduct a proper risk management analysis prior to the establishment of the flight training school, Mr Chetty observed that the function of conducting a risk management analysis lays largely with SACAA and although he cannot speak for SACAA, he is of the opinion that prior to issuing AIFA the requisite operating license, SACAA had conducted the necessary safety and security tests or a due diligence exercise of sorts. He further pointed out that SACAA is better placed than the Municipality to provide the Committee with details around the issuing of the license to AIFA.
In relation to the allegation that the Municipality had failed to apply the by laws relating to noise pollution and nuisance, Mr Chetty clarified that it is the function of the District Municipality (.i.e. Eden District Municipality) to ensure that acceptable noise levels are adhered to and to his knowledge the noise levels had been tested, at both a local and district level, and were found to be within acceptable levels in terms of the applicable regulations and legislation.
As regards the alleged breach of the constitutional rights of members of ORPA, Mr Chetty submitted that the Municipality viewed the constitutional rights of all individuals as paramount and that is why it had made the effort to meet the various stakeholders and consider their views around the flight training school operations. He further submitted that ORPA’s views around the flight training school operations were only representative of the views of a segment of individuals residing within the Municipality because the local business chamber, for instance, had no objections to the flight training school operations. He added that other organisations welcomed the economic benefits that come with having the flight school and Airport in the area and more stakeholders were for, than against, the operation of the Airport and the flight training school. Also according to Mr Chetty, the Red Cross, AIFA and the South African National Defence Force make continuous use of the Airport. He further requested the Committee to also consult the local business chamber, civil society organisations and the Head of Defence Training in the area to get a more balanced perspective around the impact of the various operations taking place at the Airport.
After addressing some of the specific issues raised by ORPA in the petition and the oral submissions, Mr Chetty then spoke to the relief sought by ORPA.
Mr Chetty stated that it will not easy to suspend the flight training school operations because there is a legally binding lease agreement in place around the operations and this agreement cannot be terminated without just cause. He added that due process had been followed in drafting the lease agreement (which commenced in November 2014 and would terminate at the end of November 2017) and it had been considered and accepted by the Municipal Council as such any breaches to the agreement will have to be legally addressed. (Refer to the Lease Agreement attached as Annexure A hereto).
Mr Chetty further stated it will be difficult for the flight training operations to be moved to another base because the license granted to AIFA, was granted specifically for it to operate from the Airport and because due process had also been followed in the granting of the license, just cause will again have to be shown for withdrawing the license and the National Department of Transport and SACAA will have to be engaged on the issue.
As regards the implementation of the recommendations of the Patel Report, Mr Chetty expressed reservations around the recommendations in the Patel Report in his submissions. He pointed out that the Patel Report contained a number of deficiencies and its terms of reference were, in his view, too broad. He also submitted that the Patel Report failed to distinguish between the different spheres of Government and further ignored the fact the three spheres of Government have different competencies. Mr Cherry informed the Committee that this is apparent in that the Patel Report makes reference to a number of issues, in relation to which the Municipality is required to intervene, yet the Municipality does not have the authority or competence to intervene in those areas.
As regards the implementation of the unapproved Spatial Development Framework Plan for 2014/15 (SDP), Mr Chetty conceded that the SDP and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) of the Municipality had yet not been approved but assured the Committee that the public participation processes around both plans is scheduled to start soon and as such, the Municipality is likely to have an approved IDP in place by the end of February 2016.
In relation to holding the Municipality accountable for damages (arising from the direct loss of amenities in life, the devaluation in property values, revenue losses and health related issues), Mr Chetty submitted that it is difficult to ascribe the rise or drop in property value to a single factor unless there is data and research to suggest otherwise. He also added that, more often than not, a drop in property value is often attributed to a combination of economic factors not just a single factor.
In concluding his submissions, Mr Chetty assured the Committee that he would share the submissions made during the hearing on the petition with the Municipal Council. He further assured the Committee that he will share the findings of the forensic audit by the Municipality with the Committee. He further assured the Committee that Municipality will take the recommendations emanating from the forensic audit in a very serious light.
3.5 Submissions by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning
In his oral submissions to the Committee, Mr A Mohamed (Mr Mohamed), a Chief at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Province (Department), placed on record that although his Department was not invited to make submissions before the Committee in relation to the petition, he had felt strongly that he should appear before the Committee and make submissions on behalf of the Department, particularly in relation to the EIA undertaken by the Department.
Further in his submissions, Mr Mohamed explained that when AIFA began its expansion activities at the Airport, which entailed the construction of a control tower and hangar, his Department became aware of the fact that the expansion was not authorised in terms of the section 24G of NEMA. And it, accordingly, issued AIFA with a non-compliance notice on 5 April 2012 and thereafter AIFA made a section 24G application and this application was lodged on 25 June 2012. He also explained that the section 24G public participation process commenced after the application by AIFA was lodged and further explained that the public participation process included public hearings and published notices in local newspapers. Mr Mohamed also submitted that throughout the public participation process, ORPA was registered as an interested and affected party and was, also, allowed to participate fully in the process which culminated in 2 draft environmental reports being produced in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
He further submitted that in 2014, AIFA was issued with a fine of R318 000 by his Department and ORPA later lodged an appeal against the fine and following the appeal by ORPA, the fine was increased to R435 000. AIFA paid this increased fine and after AIFA paid the increased fine it was granted the requisite environmental authorisation. Mr Mohamed also informed the Committee, that ORPA tried to also appeal the environmental authorisation granted to AIFA however its appeal in this regard was unsuccessful. He also informed the Committee that MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning, MEC Bredell, had made the final decision in this regard. In closing his submissions, Mr Mohamed emphasised that as far as the Department is concerned due process had been followed and the EIA had been conducted by an independent and competent entity.
4. SECOND HEARING ON THE PETITION
4.1 Committee Members and Officials
The following Committee Members were present at the second hearing on the petition:
4.1.1 Hon S G Thobejane, ANC, Limpopo (Chairperson of the Committee);
4.1.2 Hon M J Mohapi, ANC, Free State;
4.1.3 Hon J M Mthethwa, ANC, Kwa-Zulu Natal;
4.1.4 Hon G M Manopole, ANC, Northern Cape;
4.1.5 Hon D L Ximbi, ANC, Western Cape;
4.1.6 Hon T Wana, ANC, Eastern Cape;
4.1.7 Hon M Chetty, DA, Kwa-Zulu Natal
4.1.8 Hon B Engelbrecht, DA, Gauteng;
4.1.9 Hon G Michalakis, DA, Free State; and
4.1.10 Hon T Mokwele, EFF, North West.
The Committee Members present, at the hearing, were supported by the following Committee officials:
4.1.11 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;
4.1.12 Dr M Gondwe, Committee Content Advisor;
4.1.13 Adv T Sterris, Committee Researcher;
4.1.14 Ms A Zindlani, Committee Assistant, and
4.1.15 Ms N Fakier, Executive Secretary.
The second hearing on the petition was also attended by the following stakeholders:
4.2.1 Mr K Chetty, Administrator of Oudtshoorn Local Municipality;
4.2.2 Mr M J Bierman, Acting Deputy Director General, National Department of Transport;
4.2.3 Mr G Bestbier, Executive, Aviation Infrastructure, South African Civil Aviation Authority; and
4.2.4 Mr S Segwabe, Executive, Aviation Safety Operation, South African Civil Aviation Authority.
4.3 Submissions by the National Department of Transport
In his submissions to the Committee, Mr J Bierman (Mr Bierman), the Acting Deputy Director General in the National Department of Transport (Department), explained that although aviation is a function of National Government, it had various interfaces with the Provincial Government. Mr Bierman further stated that his submissions will take the form of presentations on the National Airports Development Plan (NADP) and the White Paper on National Civil Aviation Policy (White Paper). In his presentation on the NADP, Mr Bierman explained that the NADP was developed to address the gaps between the current airport network and the desired future airport network. He also explained that the NADP is also intended to guide and support national airport network planning and the development of the integration of airports within their broader spatial and transport contexts. In his presentation on the White Paper Mr Bierman submitted that the White Paper consolidates the country’s civil aviation policies into one document and further reviews these policies with a view to identifying and addressing gaps in the policies and formulating new policies on key areas which need to be addressed.
Mr Bierman concluded his submissions by informing the Committee that the Department, was not involved in the establishment of Oudtshoorn Airport (Airport) given that the Airport is a municipal airport and in terms of Part B of Schedule 4 of the Constitution, municipal airports are a competence of Local Government. He further informed the Committee that the Department only exercises jurisdiction over national and international airports, and not over provincial and municipal airports. Further in concluding his submissions, Mr Bierman informed the Committee that the Department does not involve itself in the planning or the day to day operations of airports. In concluding his submissions, he also informed the Committee that the Department will be happy to assist the Municipality in formulating options to address the concerns raised in the petition.
4.4 Submissions by the South African Civil Aviation Authority
Mr G Bestbier (Mr Bestbier) and Mr S Segwabe (Mr Segwabe) made submissions on behalf of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) during the continuation of the hearing on the petition.
In his brief submissions to the Committee, Mr Segwabe, an Executive in Aviation Safety Operation at SACAA, submitted that as far as SACAA is concerned, the Airport is a duly licensed airport and is therefore, from an aviation perspective, not unregulated or unlawful. He further added that the Airport’s operating licence is reviewed, by SACAA, on an annual basis and the operations of the flight training school also undergo their own separate evaluation by SACAA on annual basis.
Mr Bestbier, an Executive in Aviation Infrastructure at SACAA, submitted that in so far as SACAA is concerned, during the establishment of the Airport consideration was given to the noise impact of the Airport vis-a-vis the commercial benefit of the Airport. He further pointed out that SACAA, in an effort to address or mitigate any resultant negative impact of the Airport operations, reviews the operations of the flight training school and the Airport on an annual basis. This review includes checks on whether the pilots and instructors operating at the flight training school are still licensed. Further in this regard, he indicated that each individual aircraft is evaluated and then cleared for use and operation by the flight training school.
Further in his submissions to the Committee, Mr Bestbier stated that the Airport is indeed situated in the centre of town and this is not an ideal location for any airport. However he also emphasised that for any aircraft to fly, it has to fly over a built up area. He also pointed out that airports such as OR Tambo International Airport and Wonderboom National Airport were situated in similar environments but very little or no complaints were lodged in relation to their operations. He also informed the Committee that circuit operations such as the one that the Airport is currently operating under are often difficult to solve. In this respect, he submitted that even if the flight path of the Airport were to be adjusted, the mountainous terrain, in the surrounds of the town, will present a challenge. Mr Bestbier further indicated there previously had been discussions of relocating the Airport away from the built up area, but these discussions died down after it was determined that such a relocation will have a negative impact on the ostrich population of Oudtshoorn.
In concluding his submissions, Mr Bestbier advised that the local authority and the ratepayers, employ a balanced approached in resolving the issues raised in the petition and such an approach balances the noise and environmental impact of the Airport against the socio-economic benefits of having the Airport. He added that the question to be asked in employing this balanced approach is - what is the benefit of the Airport to the bigger bulk of rate payers in Oudtshoorn? He further informed the Committee that sustainability issues will also have to be considered, in this regard, as the flight training school facilitate and provides for major commercial activity within the Municipality given that it, amongst others, provides access to medical services by the community.
Further in concluding his submissions, Mr Bestbier observed that a possible solution, to the concerns raised in the petition, is a cap on the operation hours of the Airport. He also informed the Committee that 3 or 4 years ago SACAA had participated in the community consultation process held around the establishment of the Airport.
5. Observations and Findings
The Committee made the following observations and findings in relation to both hearings on the petition:
5.1 A lease agreement was concluded between the Municipality and the Aero Club in November 2014, in relation to the use of the Airport, and the conclusion of this lease agreement followed the normal Municipal Council processes.
5.2 The public participation process required in terms of section 24G of NEMA was undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
5. 3 The noise levels emanating from the Airport, have been tested at both a Provincial and District level, and were determined to be within acceptable levels and not in contravention of the applicable regulations and legislation.
5.4 The National Department of Transport was not involved in the establishment of the Airport given that it is a municipal airport and in terms of Part B of Schedule 4 of the Constitution municipal airports are a local government competence.
5.5 The National Department of Transport, generally, exercises jurisdiction over national and international airports and not over provincial and municipal airports.
5.6 The Airport is a duly licensed airport and its operating licence is reviewed by SACAA on an annual basis.
5.7 The flight training school further undergoes its own separate evaluation by SACAA and as such its operations are inspected and approved by SACAA on an annual basis.
5.8 The Airport has a positive socio-economic benefit or impact on the community of the Oudtshoorn despite the Municipality not having conclusively quantified this socio-economic benefit or impact.
After deliberating on the submissions made during the hearings on the petition, the Committee made the following recommendations:
6.1 The Municipality is to continuously improve upon and promote the involvement of the community members, in relation to developments and operations at the Airport, through its committees or any other suitable forum of the Municipality.
- The Municipality to convene a feedback session, with members of the community of Oudtshoorn, aimed at discussing and outlining the socio-economic benefits of the Airport to the community as a whole.
- During the feedback session referred to in 6.2 above, the Municipality is to further inform members of the community of the Municipal processes followed in establishing the flight training school as well of the section 24G process undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
Report to be tabled for consideration.
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