Independent Online reports that South Africa is facing legal action in the high court and censure by the World Heritage Commission in Paris for its apparent failure to safeguard a heritage site from a massive new harbour and industrial complex in southern Mozambique.
The new Ponto Techobanine coal harbour complex poses a "serious and imminent threat" to the neighbouring iSimangaliso world heritage site in St Lucia, lawyers acting for local environmental groups say.
Durban-based environmental law specialist Jeremy Ridl said the proposed new harbour south of Maputo was larger than Richards Bay (currently among the world's largest coal ports) and would handle up to 200 million tons of freight, oil, petrol and fertiliser. Lawyers have written to the SA government to urge ministers to use diplomatic pressure to dissuade Mozambique from going ahead with the harbour plan until all the environmental, social and economic costs have been examined at a regional level.
Previous attempts to build a similar harbour were abandoned in the late 1990s after environmental impact studies suggested the project would cause irreversible harm to the marine environment and coastline.
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