An increase in sand mining in the Paardeberg area, Swartland, might have a detrimental effect on wine tourism and South Africa’s reputation as a producer of top quality wines.
The South African wine industry bodies VinPro and Wines of South Africa said in a joint statement that sand mining – especially in cases where it is done illegally – poses an increasing threat in the Paardeberg.
Two legal sand mining sites are currently operational in the Swartland region, two have recently been approved by the Swartland Municipality, but the decisions will be appealed against, while one more is being considered for approval.
Prominent wine producers have expressed their discontent about the negative impact that mining development might have on the character and community of this region in the long term.
Advocate Martin Coetzee, who represents the Protect Paardeberg Coalition, said that sand mining developments in the Paardeberg are currently isolated and limited. However if new mining permits are to be issued, it would create a precedent that might have a considerable effect on the sustainability of the wine and wine tourism industries going forward.
Wine cellars in the Swartland have made a considerable contribution towards enhancing South Africa’s image – especially with regard to quality wines. Wine tourism and the expansion of South Africa’s quality packaged wine segment are both targets of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (Wise), an industry plan with a more profitable and sustainable wine industry as end goal.
“The decision to grant mining permits in the Swartland region comes as a true blow to the regional wine fraternity, who have worked hard over the past ten years to establish itself both locally and internationally as top quality wine producers and getting immense acclaim for their produce. Due consideration to the full extent of the damage to both the wine and tourism industries should be given before soils are lost and damage is done to the wine industry and the broader agriculture sector,” said Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa.
“Sustainable development is a crucial pillar of the South African wine industry. Any developments that may damage the environment will be strongly opposed. We condemn illegal activities and where there have been transgressions, the law must take its course,” said Rico Basson, managing director of VinPro.
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