Environmental Impact Analysisunder Review
BYLINE: Joanne Yawitch
Professor Jan Glazewski's article in the Cape Times on September 19 contains an interesting, if uninformed assessment of the environmental
impact assessment system in South Africa.
The experience gained in implementing the 1998 EIA regulations, including problems of interpretation due to their brevity, indicated the need for a review that would focus on both the efficiency, in other words, financial and time considerations associated with the system, and effectiveness, or the value added, by the system. This review and the resultant Nema EIA Regulations are one aspect of the development of a revised environmental impact management system.
It is undeniable that the 1997 EIA regulations were indeed groundbreaking in many respects. They unfortunately also had many shortcomings. The 1997 EIA Regulations were promulgated in terms of the Environment Conservation Act of 1989 (ECA). ECA was superceded in 1998, very soon after the promulgation of these regulations, by the National Environmental Management Act (107 of 1998) (Nema).
Nema is a much more complete piece of legislation, that is based upon the principles of our constitution and makes elaborate provision for the rights and interests of people, as well as for the protection of the environment. It also very specifically moved the focus from "environmental conservation" to "environmental management". The intention of Nema was to replace ECA, and accordingly also to replace the regulations in terms of ECA. Replacement regulations were accordingly required to address the evolution in the legislative framework.
The legal basis for the regulations in terms of Nema is thus vastly different from that of the ECA regulations and also takes into account the implementation experience.
Contrary to Glazewski's assertion that the EIA process has been reduced to a "tick box" approach, simple, easily understood and unambiguous processes and procedures have been put in place that provide the authorities with sufficient and essential information to make decisions. …