Green group moves in on World Cup stadium

Conservationists are threatening legal action which could delay the construction of a stadium in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, according to a report in the Sunday Independent.

Conservationists are threatening legal action which could delay the construction of a stadium in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, according to a report in the Sunday Independent.

Campaigners from the Environment and Conservation Association are threatening to sue a number of parties involved in the construction of the Mbombela Stadium, including the financiers over an apparent lack of adherence to South Africa's environmental laws.

The threats come after the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture and Land Administration fined the local municipality US $5,000 (ZAR37, 000) for 'change of land use and clearing of a wetland site' on the area designated as part of the stadium site. The admission of guilt fine was paid to the treasury.

An Environmental Impact Assessment for the construction of the Mbombela Stadium, set to cost about $136 million, was rushed through after it was discovered that a portion of a wetland was bulldozed before permission to proceed was granted. A school had been moved from the site where the stadium is to be constructed to a nearby tract of land described by conservationists as being one of the country's most pristine wetlands.

According to the Environment and Conservation Association, the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute and national and provincial wetland ecology officials had tried to intervene to save the wetland, but were informed by local organising committee officials that football was strategically more important for the country than the preservation of an environmentally sensitive area.

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