Western Cape government is satisfied that the farm takes remedial measures to prevent pollution.
A complaint by neighbouring farmers of a compost stench has sparked a protracted David and Goliath standoff in impoverished De Doorns in the Western Cape, where a group of 130 desperate farm workers have vowed to continue producing mushrooms to save their jobs.
Trouble for Royal Mushrooms – a source of employment for many people – began in 2012 when three neighbouring farmers laid a complaint with the Breede Valley municipality, questing the zoning of the mushroom producer.
After a court found Royal Mushrooms complied with agricultural farming zone requirements, a series of complaints and charges about the mushroom farm being a source of an unbearable stench from its substrate preparation processes (compost), followed.
These included a complaint of Royal Mushrooms being responsible for “air pollution” and degradation in the De Doorns area, which led to an investigation by the Western Cape’s environmental and law enforcement department.
In a letter to farm owner Johannes Jacobs dated April 2019 – following an investigation into Royal Mushrooms – the department’s director, Achmad Bassier, wrote: “The farm activities do not constitute a listed activity in terms of the National Environmental Act and the 1998 Environmental Impact Assessment regulations. The pollution and degradation issue at the facility have ceased and the necessary remedial measures were undertaken to prevent such pollution and degradation of the environment from continuing.”
The assessment followed a 2016 high court judgment ordering Royal Mushrooms to take reasonable steps to abate any nuisance caused by its activities.
According to farm manager James Godloza, Royal Mushrooms has implemented all the steps required, most of which are standard practice in any mushroom farm.
“We are appealing for any assistance because our right to employment has been disregarded,” he said.
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