Environmental Affairs speed things up with SEAs

SEAs for major infrastructure projects…..

Environmental minister Edna Molewa said during her budget vote speech that strategic environmental impact reports (SEAs) would be shortly introduced, saying that she was aware that her department may be holding things up with outstanding environmental-impact assessments (EIAs) which applied to specific localised projects.

The idea is to speed things up “without undermining sound environmental-impact management principles”, minister Molewa said and such a strategy for environmental-impact assessments generally to address key national concerns “is well under way”.

National overiding interests

SEAs, she said, are typically carried out on one or more large national projects or programmes, as distinct to environmental-impact assessments (EIAs), which apply to specific localised projects. The idea is to hasten the process “without undermining sound environmental-impact management principles.” Such a strategy for environmental-impact assessments generally to address key concerns “is well under way,” minister Molewa said.

On the subject of major national infrastructure projects, DEA’s Lize McCourt said, in a separate presentation to Parliament, that the department had undertaken an evaluation of the eighteen Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) which the cabinet has named as essential to the National Development Plan (NDP).

Presidential overwatch on SIPs

“We have looked at what will be the best approach in terms of environmental regulation for each one in terms of the departmental clusters involved and made a preliminary evaluation”, she said.     She indicated that a “streamlined” environmental authorisation process was to be introduced by DEA to facilitate the implementation of all the SIPs projects being overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).     The idea of the SEA was born.

1,300 EIAs outstanding

There are currently some 1,300 active EIA applications being considered by the nine provinces and here again DEA stressed they were attempting to sped up processes with these, with possibly a single approval process involved, rather than several separate processes.

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