From: Reuters
Published May 8, 2008 10:52 AM

S.Africa moves to restrict coastal development

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa moved on Thursday to curb coastal property developments to help protect vast stretches of coastline from environmental damage.

A property boom in Africa's biggest economy led to a rise in multi-million dollar apartment blocks, mansions and golf and polo estates close to coastal areas, aimed mostly at the foreign tourist market.

A new bill, introduced in parliament but still be debated before becoming law, will for the first time introduce a comprehensive national system for planning and managing South Africa's coastal areas.

"Our coastline is currently not being managed and developed in a way that optimizes its resources and opportunities," Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said.

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"Economic and social opportunities for wealth creation and equity are being missed while coastal ecosystems are being systematically degraded (and) this bill sets out to correct this," he said.

It proposes to declare seashore, coastal waters, including estuaries, as well as South Africa's territorial seas, to be "coastal public property."

The proposals aim to give government power to prevent development too close to the sea and established coastal "protection zones" within which certain activities would be banned.

"These measures are important not only to preserve the beauty of coastal landscapes but also to respond to threats posed by, for example, rising sea-levels associated with climate change or dynamic coastal processes," said Van Schalkwyk.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf, editing by David Christian-Edwards)

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