Tag Archive | environment

air quality dispersion comments called for

strelitsia_smallair quality regulations for comment…

The department of environmental affairs (DEA) has published draft regulations regarding air quality in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act referring to air dispersion modelling and has called for comments.

The regulations, says an explanation from DEA, provide a technical guideline for demonstrating compliance with air dispersion modelling for quality management in South Africa which is applicable to the need in this country for an air quality management plan, prioritising areas in such a plan, an atmospheric impact report and assessments accordingly.

New basis of controls

The regulations, which are in draft stage, are accompanied by the comment that that the Air Quality Act as a whole represents a distinct shift from exclusively source-based air pollution control to holistic and integrated effects based air quality management. Air dispersion modelling is part of this, they state.

DEA also states that the objectives of the regulations and guideline are to standardise model applications for regulatory purposes and to make sure that dispersion modelling studies are compatible across different cases.

Any written comments should be submitted to DEA by 14 February.

Posted in Enviro,Water, Health, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Tougher rules ensvisaged with new environmental law

Much debate to follow on penalties

Much in the way of environmental legislation has been pulled together in one amending document, the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, with considerable and extensive debate currently in process surrounding the implications of imposing penalties on environmental offenders.

The mechanisms to assess such penalties, who actually imposes them and collects, is not clear, say parliamentarians, and many such matters, particularly those which affect mining and necessary environmental plans for development, have been deferred into the next parliamentary session.

What constitutes unlawful activity?

A considerable number of the provisions surround the empowerment of the minister to prohibit development in certain geographical areas will have to be considered and also how to proclaim activities making them unlawful or allowed in terms of the National Environmental Management Waste Act. Also the question of the imposition of fines in certain areas of industrial activity will be probed.

On the question of general unlawful environmental activity and the fines relevant to their sections, it has been submitted by a number of environmental groups  in public hearings have complained that by defining the fines in the manner they are proposed was, in reality, as an unintended consequence making provision for a  “menu” to enable parties to “buy their way out” of certain environmental restrictions.

Procedures to be followed

Much of the legislation so far agreed to, however, involves non-problematic areas with regard to changes in environmental implementation plan procedures;  the appointment of environmental officials and the preparation of “outlook reports”. Further debate is expected to follow on legislative issues surround the controversial subject of “products” deemed to possibly have a detrimental effect on the environment.

Affected also by the proposed legislation is the National Management Biodiversity Act, where certain relatively minor amendments are concerned regarding activity in this area of endeavour but the entire process of amending the anchor legislation must be noted as having implications for a number of other pieces of environmental legislation, particularly the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act.

The current chairperson for this session of Parliament has been Adv. Johnny de Lange and the committee goes forward into 2013 with a number of major issues on its agenda that urgently need to be debated.

Posted in Enviro,Water, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry

Coastal environment bill proposals clearer

Focus still on sensitive areas….

Cabinet has now finally approved the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Amendment Bill for submission to Parliament, the new draft  on coastal environment management now clearly seeking to clarify the protection of the sea and the sea-bed without limiting the functions of other organs of the state in performing their duties.

The bill also aims to support the sustainable management of the coastal environment as was proposed in the original drafts and the 1999 White Paper on the subject but the final Bill is yet to be seen based on what has been accepted by cabinet for tabling in Parliament.

The draft that never was

Originally in early 2012 a draft was published that had the broader objectives, namely  to clarify coastal public property and the ownership of structures erected on and in coastal public property and remove the power to exclude areas from coastal public property; simplify and amend powers relating to coastal leases and extend the powers of MECs to issue coastal protection notices and coastal access notices;

Other issues concerned dumping of waste and permits to do so and penalties and fines for matters related to environmental laws in general.

Transnet sorted out

In general debate and public hearings the unintended consequences became quite evident insofar that during 2012 Transnet and the department of environmental affairs reached an agreement both anchor legislation and any subsequent amendments did not have the unintended effect of the state appropriating all the port assets of the National Ports Authority below the high water market – including the breakwaters‚ entrance channels‚ turning basins and quay walls – estimated to have a value of R46bn.

Such an appropriation posed a material threat to Transnet’s business‚ port operations‚ loan agreements‚ capital investments and financial position. This presumably caused not only precedent but a change in thinking as to what exactly what was possible and what was not, insofar as an intended line for appropriation based on inland geo markers was concerned.

New definitions of “public coastal”

Whilst the newly and now tabled Bill broadly aims to support the sustainable management of the coastal environment, a definition of “public coastal property” provided in the new bill includes “land submerged by coastal waters (including the seashore of reclaimed land) on which the substrata is artificially created and located below the high water mark; any part of an immovable structure located below the high water mark and the seashore of any natural or reclaimed island.”

Areas that are excluded include reclaimed land above the high water mark and any immovable structure or part of such a structure (including harbours and harbour installations) above the high water mark, unless inside the admiralty reserve.

Penalties and fines are still included and so are matters regarding dumping.

Posted in Enviro,Water, Health, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Climate response White Paper gets underway

According to a meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs, it was circulated to members that work has at last commenced on a White Paper on South Africa’s response to climate change.

In a Green Paper issued for public comment last year, the department of environmental said, “Taking into account the inter-generational commitment contained in the Constitution, South Africa has the climate change response objective of making a fair contribution to the global effort on climate change.”

“This is to achieve the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

The Green Paper went on to say that adaption to and management of unavoidable and potential damaging climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.

In line with this objective, the document now being circulated says that a White Paper is to be instituted shortly by an “inter-governmental committee on climate change” comprised of senior officials from all three tiers of government. The committee was told that NEDLAC will play a key coordinating role and various “social partners and academia” are to be included.

Together, these committees will oversee a technical working group on adaptation, a further working group on mitigation and, finally, a task team to handle monitoring and evaluation.

The whole exercise will focus on renewable energy supplies; energy efficiency and energy demand management; waste management; carbon capture and sequestration; water conservation and demand management; and, finally, transportation issues.


Posted in Energy, Health, Land,Agriculture, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments

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