The fight to preserve the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) will be taken to the Western Cape High Court, where food and farming campaigner, Nazeer Sonday will take on the City of Cape Town in a bid to preserve the area’s natural state.
What is the PHA?
Many of us may not know it but as much as 80% of the vegetables and flora that enters the market in Cape Town comes from farms that are situated in the PHA.
This is a large area of land that is located in Philippi that has played a vital role in the city’s agricultural ecosystem for decades.
The PHA covers an estimated 3 168 hectares of land and while some of it is uninhabitable, a considerable portion of it is owned by farmers who rely on its natural richness to farm vegetables.
Why is the City of Cape Town being taken to court?
However, farmers in the area, including Sonday, face the possibility of having to readjust to life with bustling noise of residential developments — and the pollution that comes with it.
In 2011, the City of Cape Town and the provincial government had approved two developments spearheaded by Oakland City (Rapicorp) and U-Vest.
Spokesperson to the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, James-Brent Styan, noted in a statement that everything was considered “to ensure that the proposed development in the PHA area, would not unreasonably deprive the area and the affected citizens of a valuable food production source.”
However, the PHA food and farming campaigners, led by Sonday, disagree. The group believes that bringing residential properties, shopping malls and other developments, in the area will not only affect the farmworkers who may not afford the housing but that the pollution will be hazardous.
What happens if development is approved by the courts?
The City of Cape Town has remained resolute in its belief that the approvals for development in the PHA will not affect the farms nearby.
“Having considered such relevant factors such as the potential impacts related to biodiversity, freshwater impacts, heritage/archaeological resources, traffic, windblown sand and noise impacts and specialist reports related to these it was determined that these could be mitigated to acceptable levels through the implementation of the Environmental Management Plan and conditions of the Environmental Authorisation. Approval was granted on this basis,” is the crux of their argument.
Should the courts favour the stance of the City, Styan vowed that the PHA would remain preserved in its natural state and recognised as “an area that must be protected, productive, sustainable, inclusive, safe and secure for all who work, live, invest and visit there”.
“The Western Cape Provincial Cabinet has also made it very clear that the Core PHA is to be given adequate legislative recognition and protected and managed for the long-term benefit of the citizens of the Western Cape,” he said.
Court proceedings are expected to kick off on Tuesday morning.