The National Environmental Management Act

The National Environmental Management Act

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998), as amended (NEMA), is a systematic process to identify potential positive and negative impacts (biophysical, socio-economic and cultural) on the environment associated with a proposed activity. It examines management measures to minimise negative and optimise positive consequences.  The aim is to prevent substantial detrimental effects on the environment.  According to the NEMA, sustainable development requires the integration of social, economic and environmental factors in the planning, implementation and evaluation of decisions to ensure that development serves present and future generations.

In order to give effect to the above, several listed activities have been identified, which may have a detrimental effect on the environment and require authorisation prior to such activities commencing.  Three separate listing notices, detailing the listed activities, are published in GN R983, GN R984 and GN R985 in GG 38282 of 4 December 2014 respectively, promulgated in terms of Section 24(5) of NEMA.  The listing activities were amended by the Department in 2017 and again in 2018. The amended list of activities is still referred to as GN R983, GN R984 and GN R985. Activities listed in GN R983 and GN R985 requires that a Basic Assessment (BA) be undertaken. These are generally smaller scale activities or activities where the predicted impacts are generally known and can be easily managed.  Applications subject to GN R984 require that an Environmental Scoping Report (ESR), Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) be compiled.

Regulation 12 of the NEMA Regulations (GN R982 in GG  38282 of 4 December 2014), stipulates that an applicant wishing to undertake any listed activity must appoint an independent Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) to manage the application process on behalf of the applicant.

The National Environmental Management: Waste Act

The National Environmental Management:  Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEM:WA) fundamentally reformed the law regulating waste management, and for the first time provides a coherent and integrated legislative framework addressing all the steps in the waste management hierarchy. The objects of the NEM:WA are to protect health, well-being and the environment by providing reasonable measures for, inter alia, remediating land where contamination presents, or may present, a significant risk of harm to health or the environment.  The objects of the NEM:WA are structured around the steps in the waste management hierarchy, which is the overall approach that informs waste management in South Africa. The waste management hierarchy consists of options for waste management during the lifecycle of waste, arranged in descending order of priority, i.e.: waste avoidance, reduction, re-use, recycling, recovery, treatment, and safe disposal as a last resort.

The NEM:WA provides for a licensing regime specific to waste management activities. It replaces the historical system of permits issued in terms of the repealed Section 20 of the Environment Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989) (ECA). The NEM:WA waste management categories determine the environmental assessment procedure (which is the equivalent of the NEMA Regulations’ requirements) required to obtain a licence. Category A activities need a BA as defined in the NEMA Regulations. A BA is appropriate where the environmental impact of an activity is well understood and limited in scope. Category B activities require a full EIAR in terms of the NEMA regulations. An EIAR is appropriate where the potential scope and extent of environmental impacts are not well understood or is likely to be significant.

                        For all Authorisations for Listed Activities enquiries please contact Adam Gunn on +27 (0) 11 803 5726 | adamg@@gcs-sa.biz

The National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act

The National Environment Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) (NEM:AQA), which repealed the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act of 1965, came into effect on 11 September 2005.  The objectives of NEM:AQA are to protect the environment by providing reasonable measures to protect air quality, prevent air pollution and to give effect to Section 24(b) of the Constitution. NEM:AQA must be read in conjunction with NEMA, which provides framework legislation and establishes an integrated environmental management system for South Africa.

Within NEM:AQA, the control and management of emissions relates to the listing of activities which requires the issuing of emission licenses.  In terms of Section 22, no person may conduct an activity listed on the national list (or provincial list) without an atmospheric emission license. In addition, the Minister may in terms of Section 29(1)(a) declare any substance contributing to air pollution as a priority pollutant. Any industries or industrial sectors which emit these priority pollutants will be required to implement a Pollution Prevention Plan. In order to obtain such an atmospheric emission license, an environmental authorization is to be applied for simultaneously in terms of NEMA in accordance with the activity as listed within the Regulations, by undertaking either a BA or EIAR assessment process.

GCS’ employees are well skilled EAPs and can undertake BA and EIA processes in fulfilment of the above legislative requirements.   The Environmental Unit aims to provide a cost effective service in this regard and will ensure that the applicant is provided with a practical and effective EIA and EMP.