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Environmental enforcement trends in South Africa: insights from our experience

13 July 2017
– 1 Minute Read


A previous article on environmental enforcement  summarised certain trends drawn from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) National Environmental Enforcement and Compliance Reports (NECERs).  This article outlines certain focus areas where we anticipate environmental enforcement action, in the coming year, particularly regarding:

  • Atmospheric emissions licensing
  • Environmental authorisations
  • Waste management and disposal
  • Mining, water and rehabilitation

Atmospheric emissions licensing

As a basis, the Air Quality Act requires a person who undertakes a listed activity to obtain an atmospheric emissions licence (AEL) in order to lawfully conduct such an activity. The published list of activities sets minimum emissions standards (ME Standards) for constituents emitted by “existing plant” or “new plant”, such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. The timeframes within which facilities had to / must meet the ME Standards, included targeted dates, namely 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2015, unless the compliance timeframes had been postponed. The next deadline is 1 April 2020 at which existing plant must comply with new plant ME Standards. Postponements of the compliance timeframes may be granted for an existing plant for a period not exceeding five years per postponement. There does not appear to be a limit on the number of postponements that may be granted.