The Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) commissioned by the Department of Environmental Affairs for Strategic Integrated Project 16 focuses on the first phase of the SKA project (also called “SKA Phase 1” and “SKA1_MID”) since:
- an informed decision to approve the construction of the MeerKAT has already been issued to SKA SA based on various environmental impact assessments, expert studies and geotechnical and hydrogeological studies; and
- there is currently not enough information and details available on the second phase of the SKA project.
The SEA process run by the CSIR is an independent and objective strategic level assessment which aims to provide an evidence-based knowledge set upon which strategic decisions can be made with respect to:
- The identification of no go areas and assessment of potential impacts of SKA1_MID;
- Mitigation measures and management actions to be implemented during the design and construction of the SKA1_MID; and
- Long-term research and monitoring programmes to be implemented within the SKA1_MID SEA study area during the lifetime of the SKA project.
The mission of the Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) is “to provide a platform to coordinate research and data collection within the SEA study area and integrate the environmental authorisation process ensuring that environmental factors are adequately considered and environmental principles implemented at the strategic planning stage”.
The SKA1_MID SEA study area covers an area of approximately 627 857 hectares and includes two sub-study areas:
- the “SEA core study area” which includes 38 land parcels and covers an area of approximately 131 200 hectares; and
- the “SEA spiral arms study area” which includes 131 land parcels and covers an area of approximately 496 657 hectares split into three spiral arms:
- the “SEA Brandvlei spiral arm study area” (called “Brandvlei spiral arm” because Brandvlei is the largest and nearest town to this spiral arm) which includes 37 land parcels and covers an area of approximately 146 614 hectares;
- the “SEA Williston spiral arm study area” (called “Williston spiral arm” because Williston is the largest and nearest town to this spiral arm) which includes 39 land parcels and covers an area of approximately 180 989 hectares;
- the “SEA Carnarvon spiral arm study area” (called “Carnarvon spiral arm” because Carnarvon is the largest and nearest town to this spiral arm) which includes 55 land parcels and covers an area of approximately 169 054 hectares.