The application for a review and setting aside of the planned seismic survey by petroleum gain Shell along the Eastern Cape Wild Coast kicked off in the High Court in Gqeberha on Monday.
The planned search for oil and gas is opposed by the civil group, Sustaining the Wild Coast. They argued in court that the decision by the Mineral Resources Department to grant Shell rights to conduct the seismic survey was irrational, and the Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe was not thinking straight.
Representing the applicants, Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi argued that the Mineral Resources Minister was aware that the seismic survey is not a sustainable development and will harm marine life.
He says Shell also admitted that, in the first year, the locals will not benefit from the exploration, as the job requires highly skilled personnel and the machinery used is not available locally and that limited jobs for locals would be available later.
The applicants also argue that the survey will negatively affect marine life. Ngcukaitobi says the report Shell relied on to mitigate harm on marine life was conducted in 2013, before the exploration rights licence were granted.
Since then, Shell has renewed the licence twice and Ngcukaitobi argues that science evolves.
He says Shell was never granted the environmental authority to conduct the exploration of oil and gas. Wilmien Wicomb from the legal resources centre says the required environmental approvals were not granted.
“What they did get was the environmental management plan but they are saying is the same as the environmental authority. Even though they did not get the EA, but they are saying that’s enough. The plan is clear, those are not the same.”
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett responded for Impact Africa in the matter.
He refuted the statement that due process were not followed in the awarding of the license and that all legislation is complied with. On Tuesday Shell is expected to present their argument. The case will run until Wednesday.