Committed to sound environmental management
Denel Overberg Test Range is located near the southernmost tip of Africa on the south-eastern coast of the Western Cape between Arniston and Cape Infanta. The overland portion comprises two sectors separated by the De Hoop Nature Reserve and forms part of the Greater De Hoop Conservation Area covering a total area of approximately 60 000 ha and represents one of the few relatively untouched nature areas remaining along the South African south coast. Apart from its scenic beauty it harbours an unusual diversity of ecosystems; its greatest value being its extensive stretches of unspoiled mountain and coastal vegetation and the exceptionally rich and varied marine life along the unspoiled coastline.
The establishment of a high technology testing facility in this coastal area was thus not without concern, leading to a huge public controversy when the plans were made public in the early eighties. This was eventually settled when the recommendations made by the Hey Committee (led by Dr. Douglas Hey) in their report: The environmental implications of a weapons test range in the coastal area of Waenhuiskrans-Cape Infanta was accepted by the South African government late in 1983. The Hey Report, as the Committees work is generally referred to, set the framework for sound conservation and management of this distinct area for the years to come.
Since its establishment the Test Range has successfully completed hundreds of test series and developed into a well-established and respected world-class test facility. It has proved that weapon systems testing can be conducted in an ecologically sensitive area without harming the environment. Underlying this success story is the Test Ranges commitment to delivering quality service while remaining sensitive to its unique environment. This resulted in the facility receiving ISO 9000 certification in July 1998, followed by an ISO 14001 certification of its Environmental Management System (EMS) in October 2000.
The main focus of the Test Ranges ISO 14001 EMS is to ensure sound environmental management practices, ensure compliance to environmental legislation, to minimise or prevent pollution and to continually improve the EMS. Various conservation programmes and initiatives are integrated within the EMS. The EMS also provides for integrated ecological management between the Test Range, De Hoop Nature Reserve, De Hoop Marine Protected Area (MPA) as well as the adjacent Air Force Base Overberg. External ISO 14001 audits are conducted annually by the SABS to evaluate for consistency as well as continual improvement of the EMS.
Although sound management of the terrain is an integral part of Denel Overberg Test Ranges main function as a test facility, the Test Range has accepted full responsibility towards the conservation of its natural habitat and resources. We believe in pro-active prevention rather than re-active mitigating action.
Overberg Review Committee
In order to ensure adherence to the guidelines provided in the Hey Report a monitoring committee, known as the Overberg Review Committee (ORC) was established in the late eighties to monitor the activities in the Greater De Hoop Conservation Area and to give input to improve on environmental management initiatives. This committee consists of senior representatives of the three main role players, Denel Overberg Test Range, CapeNature and Air Force Base Overberg, three external independent environmental specialists and representatives of the local fishing and farming communities. The committee meets bi-annually.