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Parliament Briefed on New Provisions in NEMLA Bill

November 14, 2018

Department of Environmental Affairs

The environmental affairs department recently briefed parliament on newly introduced provisions in the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill.

The bill was remitted back to the portfolio committee on environmental affairs in September 2018 prior to its second reading debate in the national assembly.

The bill was tabled in May 2017.

The committee adopted the bill in June 2018 and sent it to the national assembly for its second reading debate scheduled for 4 September 2018.

However, the former environmental affairs minister, Edna Molewa, wrote to the speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, requesting the postponement of the second reading debate.

The bill seeks to amend a raft of environmental legislation including the National Environmental Management Act, National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, National Environmental Management: Waste Act and the National Environmental Management Amendment Act.

It aims to provide for clarity on certain matters and textual amendments.

The proposed legislation seeks to put in place a single application process for licences and permits and allow for the issuing of integrated licences and authorisations.

In terms of the one environmental system provisions, the bill seeks to provide for simultaneous submission of all environmental applications linked to mining activities and clarify that the mineral resources minister is responsible for implementation of the licensing system for waste activity flowing from mining operations.

During its deliberations, the committee introduced new provisions in the bill that were not contained in the tabled bill.

With regard to the proposed amendment to Section 48 of the Protected Areas Act, the department holds the view that the proposed amendment addresses some of the problems, but inadequately.

The committee sought to tighten up the process for the mineral resources and environmental affairs ministers to give permission for mining activities.

Permission could only be given when there is an insufficient amount of the sought mineral and petroleum resource obtainable outside the protected area and when the activity “would not result in a permanent change in landscape or adversely affect the water catchment area”.

According to the department, amendments to the Protected Areas Act are in the pipeline.

“If this amendment is proceeded with, one of the consequences will be that it may become impossible to declare new protected areas or protected environments in future.”

The department also indicated that the proposed addition of Section 47A will put an “additional administrative and legal burden on municipalities who are currently experiencing capacity challenges with the issuing AELs”.

Meanwhile, the department recently briefed the committee on progress on the Industry Waste Management Plans.

The department, in December 2017, called on the Paper & Packaging, Electrical & Electronic and the Lighting Industries to prepare and submit plans.

Evaluation and consultations will be concluded by mid-March 2019 for recommendation to the ministers for a decision.

As regards the revised Tyre Industry Waste Management Plans, they are being evaluated based on comments received from the public.

In a separate matter, the committee has called on the department to urgently initiate a policy and legislative review of the captive breeding of lions for hunting and lion bone trade “with a view of putting an end to this practice and that the Minister of Environmental Affairs should submit quarterly reports to the committee on the progress of this policy and legislative review”.

The committee held a two-day colloquium on Captive Breeding of Lions for Hunting and Lion Bone Trade in August 2018.