Legacy can build hotel, butÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
The ECZ has allowed Legacy Holdings to build two hotels at the controversial site in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone, but vetoed their planned golf course and 450 villas because that would disrupt the ecological system in the area.
The approved proposed investment by Legacy Holding includes a Five Star Hotel comprising 280 rooms, an International Conference Room with sitting capacity for 500 people, a 100-seat restaurant, an outside sitting area with 250 seats, tennis courts and a car park and another Five Star Hotel with 200 rooms and associated facilities.
Other projects that have fallen through, include a conference centre with a capacity of about 1000 delegates, and a marina.
“The issue is complicated because apart from it being ecologically sensitive, the area is also a heritage site. Before making the decision we had to hear from experts, stakeholders and other interested parties and we also did an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment),” ECZ spokesperson Justin Mukosa said in an interview with The Southern Times on Thursday afternoon.
ECZ could not allow the establishment of the golf course and villas because the area proposed was critical as it was the animal corridor that provided the only formally protected natural fauna link between the northern portions of the park and the south.
This has to be preserved to maintain the integrity of the park. The construction of the two hotels would be subjected to environmental regulations, which among others, outlaws fencing such as hippo or chilli fences for elephants so that there was free movements of wildlife.
Other conditions are the non-introduction of exotic plants in the area without written authorisation from the ECZ.
“All developments will be located at a minimum distance of 50 metres from both the Maramba and Zambezi rivers.
“Legacy Holdings will have to improve the ecology of the area by planting indigenous plants to safeguard the wildlife and bird sanctuary areas,” Mukosa said.
He also said ECZ wanted the height of buildings on the site to be not higher than the tree tops and invisible from afar. All structures should be painted in colours that blend in with the natural environment
In order to be objective, he said, the ECZ also studied an EIA report produced by Legacy Holdings:
“ECZ has noted that the project, if implemented in full, will have far-reaching environmental consequences and will cause permanent damage to the wildlife habitat and animal corridor,” Mukosa said.
Mukosa explained that the approved construction of the two hotels in the park–a protected World Heritage Site–can only go ahead on the northern part of the Maramba River not the southern part as proposed in Legacy Holdings’ EIA report.
“We reviewed the EIA report submitted and we realised that the golf course and villas would take up a huge track of land and this will cause animal/people conflicts as wildlife will be restricted in their movements”, he said. “This will pose a great danger to people who may come in close proximity with the wild animals.”
The Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is the smallest of Zambia’s 19 national parks. It occupies a total landmass of 66 sq.km out of which the proposed Legacy Holdings project would have taken 20sq.km if it had been developed according to promoters’ wish.
Mukosa said the developer proposed to increase an area for rose production by two hectares. He however said the project would be subjected to conditions the ECZ would outline.
The ECZ spokesperson stressed that the environmental protection agency was committed to promoting sustainable enterprises and development in an environmentally sound manner.
Legacy Holdings chairman Jacob Sikazwe says the company would respond to the ECZ verdict after completing their study of the environmental agency’s decision.
“We shall make a comprehensive statement on the matter soon. We are still studying the ECZ’s response to our EIA,” Sikazwe said.
Meanwhile ECZ has approved the proposed floriculture project in Lusaka by Florite Limited near State Lodge.