The City of Cape Town has drafted a Coastal Protection Zone By-law to safeguard the economic, social and environmental value of Cape Town’s vast coastline, and is inviting the public to comment on it. The comment period runs from 1 February to 2 March 2011.
Cape Town’s coastline spans 307km, of which 240km is administered by the City and the remaining 60km by the Table Mountain National Park.
Alderman Brian Watkyns, Chair of the Planning and Environment Portfolio Committee, says the coastline underpins much of our economy, and provides for unique and diverse social recreation and opportunity, as well as critical ecosystem services.
“It is our responsibility as a City to ensure that this asset is managed and protected to serve the best interest of all residents and visitors and for the sake of our future generations,” says Watkyns.
Due to the high demand for coastal property, the City’s coastline has been extensively altered and affected by “strip” development, the location of hard infrastructure in a highly dynamic environment and a lack of historical coastal regulation. As a result the coastline is increasingly under pressure both as a social and economic asset, as well as an environmental asset. Increasing levels of coastal erosion, the permanent loss and destruction of dune systems, loss of fauna and flora and increasing levels of windblown sand put the coastline at further risk.
Alderman Watkyns notes that, “This Draft By-Law is a step in the right direction as it begins to create the appropriate regulatory framework for protecting our coastline and ensures that we collectively recognise our coast as something which belongs to all of us and deserves to be protected for the enjoyment of all Capetonians.”
In addition, global climate change predictions suggest that a rise in sea levels and more intense and frequent storms will significantly impact on coastlines across the globe. Cape Town’s extensive coastline will be particularly vulnerable to these changes.
Alderman Marianne Nieuwoudt, Executive Councillor for Strategy and Planning and Chair of the Energy Committee notes that “Climate change is a reality that we have to face head-on and this draft by-law will play a major role in reducing the City’s risk in terms of predicted future weather patterns. We aim to be a leading city in climate change resilience to ensure that our future in a changing world is secure and our communities are protected.”
In 2008 the City initiated a detailed process to identify, map and define a Coastal Protection Zone (CPZ). The explicit intent of the City’s Coastal Protection Zone is to:
- Ensure that the coastline and associated opportunities, belong to and remain accessible, to all Capetonians and South Africans
- Ensure that the coastline is held and managed in trust as common property for the benefit of current as well as future generations
- Retain and protect the economic, social and environmental value of the City’s coastline
- Protect and manage coastal ecosystems and their associated services, coastal dynamic processes and coastal biodiversity
- Protect remaining coastal systems as buffers to future climate change risks
- Protect the natural character, sense of place and aesthetic value of the coastline
- Avoid increasing the effect or severity of natural hazards on the coastline
- Protect people, property and economic activities from risks arising from dynamic coastal processes, including the risks associated with sea level rise
- Reduce management costs through retaining and protecting natural environmental systems
- Enhance, protect and optimise social and recreational opportunities
- Ensure a high quality coastal environment in perpetuity
- Protect the City, and thereby its ratepayers, from increased financial burdens resulting from the impacts of coastal erosion, predicted future sea level rise and storm surge events on coastal infrastructure and development
- Prevent the existing problems of infrastructure at risk to erosion and storm surges from increasing and recurring into the future.
Copies of the by-law are available at subcouncil offices and City libraries for viewing purposes. Residents can also access the by-law here. Maps indicating the position of the Coastal Protection Zone are available here. Comments must be submitted by 2 March 2011 and can be sent via our online form, via e-mail to Coastal.Bylaw@capetown.gov.za, by fax to 021 487 2578 or by hand delivery to the Coastal Co-ordinator, 44 Wale Street, 7th Floor, Cape Town.