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DEFF Clarifies Position on Environmental Authorisations

August 28, 2020

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Any renewable energy developments within identified zones in South Africa will still require an environmental authorization.

The environment, forestry and fisheries department confirmed this in a statement on environmental authorisations.

Notices were published at the end of July 2020 in Government Gazettes 43528 and 43571 calling for comment on the amendment of procedures to be followed in applying for, or deciding on, environmental authorisation applications for large scale wind and solar photovoltaic activities.

According to the environment, forestry and fisheries department, the notices also related to the “identification of geographical areas of strategic importance for the development of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure, large-scale wind and solar photovoltaic energy facilities and strategic gas transmission pipeline infrastructure”.

The department clarified that the procedures when applying for an environmental authorisation for the development of renewable energy in South Africa does not exempt any industry from the environmental authorization process.

As regards the proposed adoption of a Generic Environmental Management Programme for Gas Transmission Pipeline Infrastructure relevant to an application for environmental authorisation for gas transmission pipeline infrastructure, the department pointed out that the developer is still required to undertake an EIA process and to commit to implementing the provisions of the generic EMPr.

In terms of the generic environmental management programme for the management and mitigation of environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of the Working for (Wetlands, Ecosystems, Water and LandCare) projects, the department indicated that the projects related to the eradication of invasive plant species, and the rehabilitation of wetlands, ecosystems and degraded community farming land and the exclusion is for these projects only.

In another statement, the department highlighted that Environmental Assessment Practitioners have until 7 February 2022 to register with a registration authority appointed by the minister.

The extension of 24 months, from the present deadline of 8 February 2020, was published in Gazette 43632 on 21 August 2020.

According to the department, the “additional time allows for the facilitation of additional applications and for the processing of applications received by the appointed registration authority”.

The department has also, in another statement, drawn attention to the proposal to amend the Environment Conservation Act Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Regulations.

The intention to amend the regulations was published in Gazette 43601 on 7 August 2020.

The draft amendments flows from the review of all policies affecting plastic bags in the country.

The department reiterated that a Plastics Master Plan with targets, timeframes, actions and specific goals is being drafted.

The draft amendments call for the prohibition of the manufacture, trade and distribution of domestically produced and imported plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags that do not meet outlined specifications for use within South Africa.