The Environmental Impact Assessment legislation in South Africa dates from the 1989 Environmental Conservation Act (Act No. 73 of 1989) which was later replaced by the National Environmental Management Act (Act No. 107 of 1998) and the regulations which was published in terms of this Act.
This is an ever evolving field with several amendments and additions being published since then, the latest being the 2017 Amendments to the 2014 Regulations.
Purpose of Regulations
The purpose of these Regulations is to regulate the procedure and criteria as contemplated in Chapter 5 of the Act relating to the preparation, evaluation, submission, processing and consideration of, and decision on, applications for environmental authorisations for the commencement of activities, subjected to environmental impact assessment, in order to avoid or mitigate detrimental impacts on the environment, and to optimise positive environmental impacts, and for matters pertaining thereto.
In order to avoid or mitigate detrimental impacts on the environment two things stand out. Firstly someone need to monitor or audit the activities against a set of rules, usually contained in the authorisation conditions or the Environmental Management programme or plan. Secondly the people involved in the activity need to be aware of the potential impact their actions could have on the environment as well as the potential impact the activities they are involved in could have on their health and safety. Therefore Environmental Education and Awareness plays just as important role in the sustainability of a project as Audits and Monitoring.
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