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Environmental Assessment Process for Renewable Energy Under the Spotlight

July 25, 2022

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

Initiatives to improve the environmental assessment process for renewable energy projects in South Africa have been announced.

In a statement, the forestry, fisheries and the environment department pointed out that the measures will improve the “efficiency of the environmental assessment processes to facilitate the development of Solar PV and associated infrastructure in areas of low to medium environmental sensitivity”.

The department added that the initiatives to be implemented will exempt developers from obtaining environmental authorisation for certain listed or specified activities for the development of solar facilities.

According to the department, the Standard for the Development and Expansion of Powerlines and Substations in identified geographical areas will be gazetted for implementation by the end of July 2022.

“Based on compliance with this Standard the development and expansion of powerlines and substations will be excluded from the need to obtain an EA prior to commencement when developed in areas of “low” and “medium” environmental sensitivity as identified by the national environmental screening tool, and within the five strategic electricity corridors.”

The department also indicated that, in August 2022, two notices on simplifying the deployment of Solar PV facilities will be published for comment.