Utrecht : a way forward.
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South Africa's industrialisation gave rise to the establishment of many small towns in the vicinity of mineral deposits. Today many of these small towns face economic decline as these resources become exhausted. These small towns, however, can play an important role in the new South Africa. With the delivery of services in urban areas coming under more pressure, the lack of infrastructure and services has consequently led to many people being without services. Development in small towns can help reduce the pressure placed on big cities. This has resulted in environmental degradation occurring in urban areas. At the same time one should not run the risk of creating environmental degradation through development initiatives in these small towns. A procedure needs to be put in place that ensures environmental considerations are taken into account in development proposals. Many of these small mining towns have existing facilities that can be utilised for development. These existing facilities should be used instead of using development funds to build such facilities. This case study focuses on the town of Utrecht in north western Kwazulu-Natal, where the town is heavily dependent on Welgedacht Exploration, a coal mine that is the chief employer in the town. Welgedacht faces closure within the next few years and this study attempts to make suggestions on a way forward for this town after closure of the mine. The study explores the possibility of using the Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) procedure as a means to initiate development proposals. The study found that IEM can be an effective tool with regard to small town development, since through this process, appropriate sustainable development initiatives can be identified. IEM is appropriate as it makes provision for:- • Environmental considerations, • Ensures community participation, and • Enforces legal compliance thus making it an effective tool in development.