Written by Chantelle Benjamin BUILDING has been halted on the Pan African Parliament site in Midrand after it was found the development is taking place on a protected wetland area and a conservation lobby group threatened to go to court if construction was resumed. SA lobbied hard in 2004 against Libya and Egypt for the privilege of hosting the Pan African Parliament, the legislative body of the African Union, offering as part of its deal a permanent home in Midrand. The building is said to be costing taxpayers about R770m. Work began on the site in June and was halted on July 24. The Department of Public Works, in a bid to save the project, is looking at ways to incorporate the wetland into the building's design. But an environmental lobby group, the Gauteng-based Environment and Conservation Association (ECA), said yesterday that it was willing to go to court to stop the building. Nicole Barlow, chairwoman of the association, which forced Airports Company SA to rehabilitate a wetland damaged by a fuel spill at OR Tambo airport, and has taken legal action against several developments in the province that threatened protected areas, said yesterday the ECA was considering obtaining an interdict against the Department of Public Works to force it to hand over a copy of the basic assessment report and the resulting record of decision. "We do not believe they conducted the process properly and documents will show that," she said. Barlow said the department could not build on the site without irretrievably damaging the wetland. "The association wants parliament moved away from the site altogether and restoration of the site to some semblance of what it was before the destruction. If that wetland is removed the Hennops River will become badly polluted as a result of the development upstream. "SA is 15th in the United Nations list of countries with the most badly polluted surface water in the world. A few years ago we had no pollution." Barlow questions the appointment of the consulting company and its credentials to handle a project such as this. The Department of Public Works was unable to answer questions at the time of going to print.