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V&A Waterfront Fights to Keep New Year’s Eve Fireworks Tradition Alive Amid Permit Controversy

Published December 28, 2023
7 months ago

In what has become a staple of Cape Town's festive season celebrations, the anticipated New Year's Eve fireworks display at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is currently in jeopardy. The City of Cape Town (COCT) has withdrawn the previously granted noise permit required for the event, laying the groundwork for substantial public disappointment.

The annual event, which draws thousands of locals and tourists alike, is known for its mesmerizing display, which lights up the sky above the iconic Table Mountain, providing a spectacular backdrop to the harbour-front festivities. The decision to cancel the permit was based on a series of objections, spearheaded by concerns over noise pollution and its potential impact on wildlife and domestic animals.

Further complicating matters, the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has filed an urgent court application with the aim of halting the fireworks display. They argue that the loud noises and bright lights associated with fireworks are harmful to the animal population in and around the popular Waterfront area, including those in Table Bay Harbour. The SPCA contends that such conditions can lead to distress, disorientation, and even injury among animals.

In response to this challenging situation, the V&A Waterfront management, led by CEO David Green, is not standing down without a fight. The establishment has formally appealed the COCT's decision to revoke the noise permit. In an interview with CapeTalk’s John Maytham, CEO Green expressed his hope that the city will see the appeal favourably and allow the New Year’s Eve traditions to continue as planned.

According to Green, the V&A Waterfront had successfully obtained all necessary permits in early December following their application in November, a procedure that has been customary and traditionally unproblematic. However, the sudden reversal by the city has put the celebration on hold. The Waterfront's appeal aims to showcase that the event can be managed in a way that minimizes its impact on the local environment, possibly including measures to safeguard the animal population during the event.

The outcome of this appeal is highly anticipated by the community and will likely set a precedent for future events of this nature in the city. The decision now rests in the hands of city officials, who must weigh the cultural significance and economic benefits of the event against the preservation of public peace and environmental considerations.

With the expected verdict of the appeal due in a matter of days, the city is abuzz with speculation over the fate of the New Year's Eve celebration. As the dispute unfolds, the Waterfront's iconic fireworks display hangs in the balance, with all parties anxiously awaiting a resolution that will determine how Cape Town ushers in the new year.

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