Tuesday, April 17, 2007

EIA - Public Coments Awaiting


STATEMENT BY THE OFFICE OF MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM,

20 APRIL 2007

Media Statement

Ministry of Environmental Affairs and TourismEIA REGULATIONS BEING AMENDED - TO BE PUBLISHED FOR PUBLIC COMMENT BY END OF APRIL

“Our experience in South Africa continues to prove that the interests of communities and the interests of the environment can never be separated. Economic development and investment on the one hand, and conservation on the other, need not be opposing end-goals. Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) are internationally recognised as an important tool to enable governments to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account when reaching important decisions on development and investment,” said Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism at a seminar hosted by the Western Cape region of the South African Planning Institute on Friday 20th April.

According to the Minister, “The way in which EIAs have been handled in South Africa has come a long way over the past twenty years. Government is committed to making even further improvements to the EIA system, which will ensure that our future economic growth occurs in a manner that does not compromise the integrity of our environment.”

Implementation of the 1997 EIA Regulations by authorities and feedback received from stakeholders revealed a number of inadequacies in the Regulations and the general EIA system of South Africa. In reviewing the EIA system the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) concluded that a revised EIA system was required.
The 2nd generation EIA Regulations, which constituted the first step towards a revised environmental impact management system, came into effect in July 2006. These regulations have, insofar as the enabling Act allows, introduced various ways to streamline processes and reduce the need for EIAs where environmentally informed strategic spatial tools are in place.

The Minister said, “Since the new regulations came into effect in July 2006, more than 1500 EIA applications were received by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the provinces. 95% of these applications have been processed in accordance with the published time frames. Pending applications in terms of the 1997 regulations have been reduced from 5 955 applications at the end of June 2006 to less than 2 500 applications at the end of March 2007. Contracts to the amount of R11 300 000 (11.3 Million) have been awarded to service providers to assist provincial authorities with the expedient finalisation of the remaining applications.”

The Minister announced, “Chapter Five of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the EIA Regulations are currently being amended in order to ensure that our processes are as efficient as possible. These amendment processes will be concluded by the end of July 2007. Both will be published for public comment by the end of April 2007.”

These amendments will focus on:
EIA Regulations:
• Correcting technical and legal errors;
• Revisiting thresholds to “cut out” minor activities;
• Providing definitions and
• Including time frames for appeal procedures NEMA Chapter 5:
• Providing for tools other than EIA• Expanding exclusion provisions to Spatial development frameworks and Norms
& Standards and
• Providing for exemptions

“The amended EIA regulations will combine the best of the current system with new provisions to streamline processes even further, and will ensure that the application and administration of our environmental laws is more efficient and effective. The end result will be better for conservation, better for communities, better for development and better for South Africa.”
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