The nature of public participation in the decision to implement shale gas mining : a case study of the Karoo Basin.
Since 2008 the African National Congress has been making preparations to legalise Shale Gas Mining in South Africa. Shale Gas Mining and its single process of unconventional oil/gas extraction called fracking, has sparked immense controversy both locally and internationally. This has made fracking and Shale Gas Mining a highly politicised topic. Due to uncertainties of the sustainability of fracking, which is evident in factors such as the lack of scientific evidence, and public opposition, states such as France and Bulgaria, have banned fracking. Currently the USA, Canada, Argentina and China are the four major countries in the world that are fracking for unconventional shale gas and oil at commercial levels. Opponents of fracking and SGM emphasise its long term negative socio-economic and environmental consequences. Proponents of fracking and SGM promote it on the basis that it harnesses the potential to bring economic growth and energy security. Further exacerbating the contentious nature of the fracking debate is the lack of accountability, transparency and good governance regarding its proposed implementation around the world including South Africa. The South African Constitution affords all its citizens the right to participate in political decisionmaking. This research interrogates the nature of public participation in the African National Congresses decision to legalise Shale Gas Mining in the iconic landscape of the Karoo basin. This research employs desktop study aided by 90 journal articles, 40 electronic pdf documents, 71 websites, 19 books, 6 online videos comprised of fracking documentaries news reports, 4 government publications and 2 conference papers. Findings from this study reveal a prevalent lack of transparency and a lack of genuine public consultation and public involvement by South Africa’s national government regarding the proposed implementation of shale gas mining and fracking. Although public consultations had been conducted by Shell falcon and Bundu as is required by the National Environmental Management Act, October 2014 saw the first public consultations initiated by the South African government – over five years after fracking was proposed.