Pandor 'has power to prevent fracking'

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has the power to quash any attempts that may jeopardise the...

A member of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group participates in a protest at Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, 5 April 2011. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has the power to quash any attempts that may jeopardise the country's astronomy projects, including fracking in the Karoo, her deputy said on Tuesday.

Pandor delivered her budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

While briefing the media, the minister and her deputy Derek Hanekom promised the country is on track to meet all requirements for the final bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

South Africa is competing with Australia to host the SKA, which will analyse radio waves and help scientists probe

the origins of the universe.

Hanekom said while other departments probe the environmental concerns of hydraulic fracturing, they will stop anything from interfering with the project.

"The minister has the powers in terms of the Astronomy Act to ensure that nothing would jeopardise the geographic advantage that prevails in that area," he said.

It is believed fracking for shale gas in the Karoo may cause radio interference which could negatively impact the SKA project.

Pandor remains positive that South Africa will be the victor when the

winning bid to host the world's most powerful radio telescopes is

announced in 2012. She said she is satisfied the country has met all the

requirements.

Pandor said the SKA project office is finalising the bid.

"We are preparing vigorously for the submission of all the site

selection information that is being asked for from the bidding countries

by the global committee looking at the bid," she said.