The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs has published two sets of draft regulations in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (“NEMA”) and the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (“NEMWA”). The draft regulations, which are very similar to each other, set out fees that will be payable to the responsible authorities, in the future, for the consideration and processing of applications for environmental authorisations and waste management licences.
Other regulations published in terms NEMA and NEMWA set out lists of activities, which if planned or undertaken, require environmental impact assessments to be conducted and environmental authorisations or waste management permits (as the case may be) to be granted prior to the commencement of such activities. The aim of these laws is to ensure that development happens in a manner that is sustainable and not unreasonably environmentally destructive.
To date no fees have been payable to the authorities for the processing environmental authorisations and waste management licences, but from 1 July 2012, an amount of up to R15 000.00 will be payable for such applications to be processed. It would be untrue to say that the processing of applications for environmental authorisations and waste management licences has occurred without delay and in an efficient manner. Such applications are accompanied by expert reports and assessments which, are lengthy, of a technical nature, costly, and require specialist expertise in order to grant (with or without conditions) or refuse an application.
The time and costs borne by applicants in preparing the reports for the applications, justify resources being deployed on the part of government in order for the applications to assessed, even if it is the applicants that are now required to foot this bill as well as the cost of the reports (one would have thought that tax revenue should be deployed to this end). It is hoped and expected that the not insignificant fees which will be paid by those requiring environmental authorisations and waste management licences will enable the environmental authorities to better apply their minds to such applications. It is also hoped that the extra resources will enable authorisations to be customised to the specific activity being approved, and not merely a “cut and paste” off a generic authorisation template. This should lead to the efficient implementation of the abovementioned statutes order to facilitate environmental management and sustainabile development.
– Garth Watson