Most of us opted to live in the Garden Route to leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind. We enjoy the atmosphere and serenity of these areas, the close proximity of the open spaces, green meadows and belts, and beaches. Although the comfort of bigger businesses and amenities such as medical care is convenient, at what stage will we lose our small town character or even the total loss of a sense of place?

Do we really need security estate upon security estate, more housing developments, yet another shopping mall, heavier industries clustered together and situated on a ridge for the world to see, emitting dark and unhealthy smoke into the clean, blue air and disturbing the ambient noise levels? And if we already have industries with similar environmental impacts in some of the towns such as a brick factory, a pilot waste recovery plant, a pole treatment facility and water treatment works, do we really want another contributor such as a crematorium? Do we need to add the odours associated with these businesses to the other impacts? Did we keep track of industries, especially those in towns, which expanded since their approval date and hence expanded their noise and emission footprints? Does the area have the infrastructure to carry these types of industries in close proximity to dairy and game farms and sensitive receptors such as schools and an older, frailer population sector? When do we start losing the “Garden” from the Garden Route?

As an environmental lawyer I feel strongly that we should at some stage make a decision to create balance between wealth and comfort, and a pristine environment, the rural character of our immediate surrounds and the conservation of our fast-disappearing natural resources.

When it is decision time, please get involved and voice your opinion. Use any of the acknowledged forums – your local newspapers, social forums, the local and district municipality, the local ratepayers associations, heritage associations etc.

Keep your eyes and ears open and get involved. You have a constitutional right to a clean, healthy environment, the responsibility to ensure that the authorities implement this correctly and official channels to add your voice and exercise your choices. You have a voice. Ensure that you arm yourself with accurate information and facts that enable you to make an informed decision.

Your first port of call for any enquiries would be to contact your town planning department at your local municipality. For complaints about air quality control in the Garden Route, send an email to and address noise and odour complaints to the health department at the local municipalities.