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Integrated Environmental Management Plan for SKA Amended

March 29, 2021

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

The amended Chapter 2 and Chapter 5 of the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) (Phase 1) has been adopted.

The environment, forestry and fisheries department published the amended Chapters in Government Gazette 44320 in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

The department also notes that two additional conditions have been added to paragraph 4 of Notice 436 published in Gazette 42323 on 22 March 2019 and condition has been amended.

The amendments were published for comment at the end of November 2020.

The IEMP for Phase 1 of the SKA was adopted in March 2019.

The IEMP outlines the environmental principles to be followed in the construction and operation of SKA Phase 1, the environmental monitoring and control activities to be undertaken and the long-term research monitoring programmes to be implemented at the SKA site.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) was excluded, in terms of section 24(2)(e) of the act, from the requirement to obtain environmental authorisation for activities associated with SKA (Phase 1).

Chapter 2 of the adopted IEMP for the SKA (Phase 1) contains the scope of the SKA (Phase 1) activities and Chapter 5 contains the environmental management programme.

Issues taken into account in the revision of Chapters 2 and 5 include the findings of the most recent Radio Frequency Characterisation Reports; the aim of the NRF to increase the allocation of renewable energy into the energy mix of the SKA (Phase 1); the need to construct a boundary fence access road; increase in the size of the site and to declare the site as the Meerkat National Park with SANPARKS as the appointed Land Management Authority.

Amendments to the construction camp configuration are also proposed in order to mitigate the high radio frequency interference levels in the core area of the SKA.

The new condition of exclusion limits the development of infrastructure by the NRF.