The Department of Environmental Affairs presented a progress report on measures for the expropriation of lion bones. It also offered a review and amendment of alien and evasive species regulations, and the regulatory framework for genetically modified organisms in South Africa. The Department noted that culling elephants was not an option currently. The Department had recently received four elephant management plans and that none of these had adhered to the requirements as mentioned. The Department was working hard to publish the final regulations on Alien and Invasive Species by the end of 2009/10. It noted that the draft covered a number of issues including the national strategy for Alien and Invasive Species, the risk assessment systems, which would need to be implemented, and prevention, control and monitoring systems. There was also provision for a categorisation of species into specific groups. South Africa was the eighth largest producer of genetically modified goods and biotechnology crops. The Department noted that South Africa was also the only country in Africa that had moved past the trial stage and actually had commercialised genetically modified crops. The country currently had 2.1 million hectares of maze, cotton and soya being grown. These were planted in 2009, allowing South Africa to both export and import these crops. The existing framework was informed by the Genetically Modified Organisms Act 1997 which was implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The Department relied on its own Environmental Risk Assessment framework to deal with Genetically Modified Organisms.
The Department presented a progress report on measures to combat rhino poaching. It indicated that the white rhino population in South Africa was showing a slow and steady growth with an estimated 20 000 in the country currently. It estimated that there were about 1 600 black rhinos in existence. It explained that poaching had spiked only since around late 2007; this the Department believed indicated the existence of a sophisticated and organised poaching syndicate. So far this year there had been 186 incidents of poaching amounting to R 65.1 million. Based on this the Department estimated that future loss due to poaching would amount to another R104 million, totalling 290 to 300 animals. The Eastern and Northern Cape experienced poaching for the first time in 2009. In terms of the 186 rhino killed, so far 62 people had been arrested particularly in the Kruger National Park. The Department noted that much of the poaching was being orchestrated from the Mozambique. In order to tackle the problem the Department had identified five different levels of crime. Arrests so far had been confined to levels one through three.
The Department presented the Committee with an update on environmental regulations related to mining. An agreement endorsed by Parliament required an environmental impact assessment to be undertaken when mining was carried out, regardless of the fact that the mines were managed by mineral legislation. The Department noted that mining continued to be a major contribution to environmental degradation. It was thus problematic that mining continued to fall outside of Environmental Management. The Department noted that mining was an important employer in South Africa and a key player in the South African economy. The Department explained its relationship with the Special Planning Commission.
The Department informed Members that the process of transferring posts to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was finalised in April 2010. A total of 153 permanent posts had stayed in the Department of Environmental Affairs and 738 posts had been transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The Department had experienced challenges particularly around splitting the environmental, marine and support functions. A new branch, Oceans and Coasts, had been created.
Members asked about the use of exported animals products, particularly the current spike in lion bone export. Members showed concern over the number of animals disappearing, particularly with regards to border issues. Members were particularly interested in arrests and the procedures around arrests especially as it pertained to the establishment of the environmental courts. They questioned the speed at which the courts were being established, their position and their mandate. Members took issue with the current status of the mines and their environmental impact. They raised specific concerns about the status of certain acts and the impact of the National Environmental Management Act.
Department of Environmental Affairs progress report on rhino poaching, the expropriation of lion bones, and culling of elephants
Mr S Monzetsi, Chief Director, Biodiversity Management, Department of Environmental Affairs, presented to the Committee a progress report on rhino poaching, the expropriation of lion bones, and culling of elephants. He also offered a review and amendment of alien and evasive species regulations, and the regulatory framework for genetically modified organisms in South Africa. Beginning with lion bones he informed the Committee that the legislative framework dealing with lions was provided for at the national level. Lions were considered an endangered species in terms of National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). A permit was required to carry out any activities dealing with lions. Provinces were in charge of administering these permits. He indicated that the North West and the Free State were the only provinces currently active with regards to this and that this was a new phenomenon. He informed the Committee that the Department was unsure as to why the demand for lion bones was growing but that it was investigating this. He noted that most of the lion bones had come from captive breeding facilities.
Culling elephants was not an option currently. In terms of the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa a management plan was required by those who have elephants currently; within this management plan the possibility of culling as an intervention control must be identified and explained. He noted that the Department had recently received four elephant management plans and that none of these had adhered to the requirements as mentioned. These have been returned and a request had been made for them to provide the required information. He assured the Committee that the Department had not as yet approved any elephant management plans that had included the option of culling.
Mr Monzetsi told the Committee that the Department was working hard to publish the final regulations on Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) by the end of the current financial year. He noted that the draft covered a number of issues including the national strategy for AIS, the risk assessment systems, which would need to be implemented, and prevention, control and monitoring systems. He highlighted that the document also includes a categorisation of species into specific groups ranging from that require compulsory control to those that can be controlled by area. He suggested that a large sum of money would be needed to implement these new regulations in terms of education, enforcement and compliance. He suggested the possibility of implications for the National Environmental Biodiversity Management Act (NEMBA) particularly in terms of implementation.
Turning to the regulatory Framework for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), Mr Monzetsi informed the Committee that South Africa was the eighth largest producer of genetically modified goods and biotechnology crops. He noted that South Africa was also the only country in Africa that had moved past the trial stage and actually had commercialised genetically modified crops. The country currently had 2.1 million hectares of maze, cotton and soya being grown. These were planted in 2009, allowing South Africa to both export and import these crops. The existing framework was informed by the Genetically Modified Organisms Act 1997 which was implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The Registrar of the GMO administered the Act and two regulatory bodies namely Executive Council and the Advisory Committee evaluated and decide on applications.
Mr Monzetsi reiterated that the DAFF is considered the competent authority on this regard. He noted though that they also had the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), which does provide for the management of GMOs particularly with regards to their impact on the environment. He suggested that in terms of a legislative framework South Africa was well equipped to manage the possible issues with regards to GMOs. He argued that this was largely due to the number of Departments involved in over seeing different aspects of the issue. He acknowledged that regardless of all of this the subject was one which would continue to require a cautionary approach particularly due to its linkage with biotechnology.
In terms of environmental safety assessment criteria, Mr Monzetsi informed the Committee that the Department relied on its own Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) framework to deal with GMOs. He explained that the ERA framework provided information on the key environmental concerns associated with GMO such as persistence and invasiveness, gene flow and transfer, effects of biogeochemical processes, changes in agricultural practices, interactions between GMO and target effects and interaction between GMO and no target organisms. He highlighted that 78% of the countries current maize produce was genetically modified and that there were field try outs for other crops including soya beans. Other approved activities under the GMO Act included field trials for sugarcane, commodity clearance for food/ and or feed for maize, soybean and oilseed and vaccines for tuberculosis and HIV. He stressed that for the DEA as articulated in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), GMOs were primarily a threat to biodiversity. In terms of this the DEA had focused on creating an enabling environment in line with national policy imperatives that ensured that developments with biotechnology did not pose a significant threat to the environment.
Mr A Wills, Acting Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs, presented a progress report on rhino poaching. He indicated that the white rhino population in South Africa was showing a slow and steady growth with an estimated 20 000 in the country currently. He estimated that there were about 1600 black rhinos in existence. He explained that poaching had only spiked since around late 2007, this he believed indicated the existence of a sophisticated and organised poaching syndicate. So far this year there had been 186 incidents of poaching amounting to R 65.1 million. Based on this he estimated that future loss due to poaching would amount to another R104 million, totalling 290 to 300 animals. Pointing to map of poaching hot spots he explained that the areas of focus had always been the Kruger National Park and KwaZulu Natal but that this pattern was changing, with poaching, over the past five years, having spread into other provinces. The Eastern and Northern Cape experienced poaching for the first time last year. In terms of the 186 rhino killed so far 62 people have been arrested particularly in the Kruger Park. He noted that much of the poaching was being orchestrated from the Mozambique and that out of the 22 sections of the Kruger Park twelve were experiencing poaching. Turning to current figures he highlighted that in April they were losing up to one animal per day and that this figure had been growing as of August. As yet he could offer no reasons or explanations for the spike.
Mr Wills explained that in order to tackle the problem the Department had identified five different levels of crime. The lowest level suggested that poaching took place in protected areas and on private land and was carried out by individuals and groups. Level two was the area surrounding the protected or private land; he suggested that this was where poaching groups or activities originate from. Level Three referred to the National Level where it was believed that the South African based syndicate buyers, couriers and exporters were operating, generally from main centres. Level Four referred to the international but regional level in this case countries like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Lastly he explained that the end user or Level Five, considered to be the driver behind poaching, was situated internationally. He argued that in order for poaching to be tackled effectively the Department would need to focus on all five levels simultaneously hence there current strategy focusing on addressing all five levels. Arrests so far had been confined to level one through three but it was the hope of the Department that these would impact on higher levels and eventually allow for arrests at these levels. He suggested that as they progressed the investigation would become more complex particularly due to the nature of the syndicates involved.
Mr Wills suggested that in order for this plan to work certain stakeholders would need to be involved at different levels. At provincial level the prosecuting authority, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Environmental Management Inspectorate would need to be involved. These groups would need to be working closely with private landowners, private security companies and the various parks. At a national level the prosecuting authority, the Hawks and the Environmental Management Inspectorate would all need to play a vital role along with the Revenue Services and Interpol. Essentially key stake holders would need to operate from a national point of view, through the provinces and down to a local level. In terms of level four and looking regionally he informed the Committee that they were looking at forming a very similar structure with South Africa’s neighbouring countries supported via Interpol. He argued that it was vital that their action plan get implemented and that they receive a secure commitment from all the stakeholders involved - Government and private. The policy focused on the safety and security of rhino but could be used to counter all organised environmental crime. He suggested that in terms of the marked escalation in crime that there was a very definite need for resources, an investigative unit, political will and a management system in order to strengthen prosecutions. Most importantly he argued that there was a need for highly trained and well equipped personal at all levels. He acknowledged that there was very definite lack of adequate research data on the Department’s part particularly information dealing with investigations and offshore demands. He accepted that they did not understand what was currently driving the demand but that it was essential that they find out. He also touched on the need for an adequate budget, environmental courts, a national database, a national permitting system, the involvement of communities, and the support of international initiatives.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked why, before 2008, poaching of rhino was under control. She also asked what the Departments relationship was with the Mozambique monitoring body, particularly since this was a cross border issue. She also asked for clarity on the number of people caught and prosecuted
Ms A Lovemore (DA) asked why lion bones were becoming a sought after commodity. She asked for clarity over the rhino poaching and the numbers provided and whether or not these included attempted poaching incidences. Raising the issue of the number of poachings in the North West she asked why no arrests had happened. She asked for more information on whether the possession of rhino horn was considered a crime in the countries the horns were exported to. She enquired about whether cyanide injection into rhino horns had been considered. She took issue with the idea of implementing an immediate action plan when there had been a clear issue since 2008. She also asked what was meant by the need for political will.
Ms H Mdude (COPE) enquired whether or not there was a management plan currently in place. She also asked which species would not receive licences. In terms of rhino poaching she asked for clarity on the arrest process and why it was seemingly easy to kill rhinos. She asked for information on the investigative complexities mentioned. She also asked for success stories from the National Wildlife Crime Initiative. Taking issue with the Crime Investigative unit, she suggested it needed to be established rather than developed
Mr J Skosanana (ANC) highlighted the three provinces awarded permits and asked about what was happening in the other provinces. Turning to the exportation of bones he asked how the legislation was enforced in provinces, as the problem seemed to be focused at a provincial level initially. He asked for clarity on the value of animals killed and whether the numbers given were commercial value or value of animal killed. He also asked for more information on what was being done about community engagement and the creation of stakeholders. Lastly he asked for an estimation on funding required and resources that would need to be committed in order to implement this legislation
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked for information about the criminals and whether or not the communities were being educated about the dangers of poaching
The Chairperson asked for information on the collaboration between South Africa and Mozambique. He took issue with the information given that no arrests had taken place in the Free State when the newspapers had recently reported otherwise.
Mr Monzetsi informed the Committee that they were busy investigating what the uses of the rhino horns and bones were in the Middle East; they had gathered information about this on a recent trip to Vietnam. In terms of permits he informed the Committee that these were permits issued by provinces, as provinces had the authority to do so, permits were not handed out nationally. Turning to Management Plans, he stated that there were a number of authorities that did not have management plans in place in terms of the National Norms and Standards. This was currently underway particularly focusing on the Management of Elephants. He agreed with the Committee that there was a need for funding particularly to ensure compliance and enforceability for endangered species. He mentioned border posts and a need for personal, specialised equipment and focus. In the meantime the Department had written to all provinces asking them to put forward people for the National Wildlife programme; so far most of the provinces had replied but again the employment of these people would require specific funding.
Mr Monzetsi informed the Committee that there were lists of species and these fell into different categories. These lists do not only focus on plants or fish but rather a number of species were categorised in terms of their possibility for invasiveness. These lists were informed by science
Mr Wills agreed that prior to 2008 they were losing five animals per year. This was due to the fact that people were not organised and the demand was far smaller. The difference now was that animals were being killed to order. This, he suggested, was the work of syndicates involved in a variety of activities including prostitution, drug smuggling and abalone. He noted that they were unsure as to what was driving the demand. He suggested that people could be stockpiling, particularly since rhino horn was becoming scarcer. He also informed the Committee about poaching’s current linkage with a Vietnamese politician suffering from cancer, who, it is believed, used the horn and believed that it caused his cancer to go into remission. Turning to border issues he stated that fences had never kept people out but that this was particularly difficult when dealing with mobile and efficient syndicates. Speaking to arrests he argued that they were improving in terms of number of arrests and their own methods. The figures given included animals injured and interfered with due to poaching activities. Dialogue was underway with some Eastern countries, particularly Vietnam; the longer term goal would be to engage other countries and to bring their law enforcement agencies to South Africa and vice versa.
Rhino poaching was considered a high priority crime in line with cash in transit robberies; this had meant that the Hawks and the South African Police Service (SAPS) were on board. He noted the suggestion for use of cyanide but suggested there was no way they could support this particularly with relation of the dangers it poses in terms of people being killed. He informed the Committee that the Department had the Minister’s full support and that the political will did exist. Due to the lack of a dedicated Green Court System, a number of the cases were taking up to the three years to reach prosecution. The investigations were also highly complex due to the fact that the perpetrators were an international crime syndicate. He stressed that they were making inroads particularly due to the involvement of the Hawks. He informed the Committee that they had the Provinces on board in terms of provision of individuals, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the SAPS and the Hawks.
The value of animals in relation to horns was shown in terms of animals as the horn was being sold on the black market and the Department struggled to access information on the price of horn. Mr Wills stressed that this was the kind of money people would risk their lives for. The Department was currently making funding available but this was understood as a top up for the programme to ensure travel and its growth. He told the Committee that certainly from a Kruger Park perspective the Department was working with Mozambique and Interpol. Addressing the helicopter arrest in the Free State he told the Committee that the Department was aware of it but was reluctant to claim credit for it as it was not clear as to the circumstances of the arrest.
Department of Environmental Affairs status report on current standing of Environmental Courts.
Ms J Yawitch, Deputy Director General, Environmental Quality Protection, Department of Environmental Affairs, provided a status report on the current standing of the Environmental Courts. She informed the Committee that the Department had been engaging with the Department of Constitutional Development and that a decision had been taken.
Mr S Bapela, Chief Director, Waste Management, Department of Environmental Affairs, presented an update on the current status of the Environmental Courts to the Committee. He reminded them that the Minister had, in 2009, an expressed a will to re-establish the courts. The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs then met with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development; during this meeting they came to an agreement that there was definitely a need to re-establish the courts. He informed the Committee that following this meeting the two Ministers had then met with their respective Director Generals and it had been decided that their should be a task team set up to establish how the courts would be set up, how many would be needed and where. He noted that the task team had since that meeting finalised the memorandum of understanding, which still needed to be signed by the directors-general. The team had also completed a Project Document dealing with how the Environmental Courts would be established. It had also consulted the Judiciary and the National Prosecuting Authority. Mr Bapela informed the Committee that the latest decision regarding the courts has been that the best place to establish them would be Mpumalanga, with the proposed start date being 14 December.
Department of Environmental Affairs update on environmental regulations related to mining
Ms T Carroll, Director, Regulations and Monitoring, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), presented the Committee with an update on environmental regulations related to mining. She informed them that an agreement was undertaken with the Ministers that was endorsed by Parliament. This agreement required an environmental impact assessment to be undertaken when mining was carried out, regardless of the fact that the mines were managed by mineral legislation. She noted that mining continued to be a major contribution to environmental degradation. In light of this she stressed that it was problematic that they continue to fall outside of Environmental Management. She highlighted the fact that mining was an important employer in South Africa and a key player in the South African economy. She informed the Committee that environmental procedures were often understood as impeding investor confidence. In 2008 it was agreed that there should be a singular Environmental Management System for mining and that this system would need to be prescribed by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) or environmental legislation; the Minister of Mineral Resources would also need to retain a mandate. Accordingly, the Minister of Environmental Authority would also need to be instated as a key authority regulating the use of the Environment for mining.
Ms Carroll noted that these conditions were supposed to be implemented through an amendment to the relevant Acts including NEMA, she informed the Committee that the Amendment was supposed to come into effect eighteen months after the enactment of the Act. The principal agreement was tabled in parliament in the form of an Amendment Act or an Amendment Bill to NEMA and National Development Act (NPODA). She informed the Committee that a joint Portfolio Committee sat on the 14th of March and endorsed the agreement with an addition that the entire function, including implementation and legislation, must be transferred to the DEA. The implementation of Agreement was meant to take place in three periods. Ms Carroll explained that the first period was to be for the status quo, which was meant to see the Act being brought into effect by the Minster of Mineral and Petroleum over the 18 months before the Act was amended.
Ms Carroll explained that since 18 months had passed the Department had expected the status quo stage to have been implemented and completed at this point in time this has not even been implemented. This has meant that the responsibility has remained with the Department of Mineral Resources. The date of the amended NEMA coming into effect continues to be unknown; she stated that they had attempted to contact the Minster of Mineral Resources on several occasions in order to establish when the 18-month period would begin. At present they still had no information regarding this.
Ms Yawitch asked the Committee for more information on what they meant by needing more information on tender processes
Mr Skosana, clearly irritated, stated that they had made it clear that they wanted information on whether tender processes were followed when companies applied
Ms Yawitch explained that medical waste companies dealt with the Department of Health at a provincial level, the Department had no involvement. She suggested that the Provincial department of Health would have more information on the tender processes.
Mr Skosana asked for a clear response and suggested it was not enough for the Department to simply say that this was something the Provincial Department of Health dealt with
Ms Lovemore raised the fact that the National Waste Management Strategy specifically stated that the National Department would be required to provide oversight and develop guidelines for the Provincial Health Authorities.
Ms Yawitch agreed that they were required to set an overall policy framework, which they had done. She informed the Committee that they were busy working on regulations, which would soon be published and available for public comment. These regulations address how the Department would like medical waste to be handled in public and private hospitals; these had been created with the Department of Health. She explained to the Committee that the Department had done some work at provincial level and acknowledged the need for new, better and different ways to handle waste.
Mr Skosana cut the answer short and expressed concern that the answer was talking about future plans. He asked for information on what was taking place currently. He also expressed frustration over the lack of answer dealing with tendering processes
Ms Yawitch stressed that the Department did not have a legal mandate to set the tender specifications at either national or provincial hospitals. She informed the Committee that this was something done by the Department of Health and by the provincial hospitals. This has meant that the Department had not been directly involved with the tender process. She stressed that the Department was involved in trying to establish certain guidelines as much as they were allowed to but that this engagement was only happening on a national level. She reiterated that the Department did not have a legal mandate or responsibility to get involved at a provincial level although the Department could engage further with the national Department of Health on the basis that the Department of Health controlled the tender process.
Ms N Cobbinah, Chief Director of Waste Management, Environmental Quality Protection, Department of Environmental Affairs, added that a meeting had been held with the National Department of Health (DOH). During this meeting the Department was briefed about the collaborative work that was taking place between the DEA and its officials and the officials for the DOH. She explained that the DOH was quite happy to let the collaborative work that was taking place contribute to the tender processes. She noted that the relationship between these two Departments was amicable currently and in a process of maturing. There were meetings taking place with regards to overlapping mandates when dealing with medical waste. This overlap has forced the two departments to work together. She stated that it was the Departments understanding the DOH would need to provide information on the exact role of health inspectors. The Department for its part had identified that the role of Health Inspectors with regards to the enforcement of environmental legislation could be useful. She informed the Committee that the Department was busy trying to ensure that Health Inspectors receive training in Environmental Management.
How Department Deals with Non-Compliant Waste Management
Ms Cobbinah addressed the Committee’s worries over un-permitted landfill sites owned by municipalities. She told the Committee that they had carried out a study in 2007, which revealed that there were in excess of 500, un-permitted sites in existence. In order to rectify this, the DEA contracted a service provider to help municipalities in their applications for permits. The consultant started dealing with small communal sites as part of stage one of dealing with this issue. She explained that the consultants actually went to all the municipalities, filled in the request forms and then returned these to the DEA. Phase two of the project involved tackling the large landfill sites. The municipalities involved here struggled to submit their applications because of the financial constraints created by having to carry out various studies as required by the applications. The Consultants were then sent out to these municipalities to speak to those involved and obtain the necessary information regarding how ready they were. She stated that this had happened, the DEA had these reports and was now involved in engaging with various Departments including the National Treasury in order to gain the ability for municipalities to be able to establish infrastructure.
In terms of job creation, as it related to waste, Ms Cobbinah explained to the Committee that the DEA had in last quarter created approximately 2 600 jobs through waste projects. Addressing the questions over The Association of Tyres she informed the Committee that the DEA was not aware of this association. She clarified that what the Department was aware of was a Section 21 company that had recently been established by the tyre entities, which would be looking after waste tyres. This was created in response to the guidelines established in the Waste Act and the responsibility clauses that had been created prescribing the responsibilities for industry waste management. The Minister had asked the tyre industry to develop a tyre plan both in terms of the Waste Act as well as the tyre regulations, which were published prior to the Waste Act. She noted that DEA was currently assessing this waste plan and a decision would be made in due course.
The Department provided the Committee with information on the implementation of waste management legislation and how non-complaint waste management was dealt with. The Department explained that when companies were non-complaint the Department had two legal means available. The first was an administrative legal process which was provided for in the Act and the second a criminal procedure process. The Department added that the two ran concurrently and independently. In explaining the administrative process, the Department informed the Committee that the process could either be triggered through the routine compliance monitoring on a company or through an investigation due to complaints of illegal activity. Once monitoring had been undertaken the complain would then be forwarded to the law enforcement unit which would then be required to issue a pre-compliance notice or a pre-directive. This notice requests that companies explain why they should not be issued with a notice for issues that have been raised. Once a compliance notice had been issued the companies were given an opportunity to appeal, object or apply for a suspension notice of the directive. If this took place the Minister would look to the Department for advice on further actions; in the mean time officials would continue to monitor compliance with the company concerned. In terms of criminal process, the officials would carry out and investigations which runs parallel to the administrative process. This would be conducted according to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Once the officials of the DEA were done investigating, they loaded the case on the case administrative system of the SAPS, and dockets were handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Department informed the Committee that all the waste management companies had been brought before the criminal court at some point.
Mr Skosana took issue with the statistics of job creation and asked for statistics for the second quarter and clarity on other provinces
The Chairperson asked why other provinces did not appear and if this meant nothing was happening
Ms Lovemore asked if there would be dedicated time in existing courts or dedicated courts. She expressed surprise at the suggestion that there would be one court based in Mpumalanga; she asked for clarity on this as she was under the impression that there would be more. She also asked for more information on the new EIA legislations.
Mr Genume Sekicha, the Chief Director for the Social Responsibility Programme, stated that a second quarter report was unavailable. There were though a number of other projects running in other provinces but these would only appear in the second quarter as they were projects focused to those for the first quarter
Mr S Bapela, Chief Director, Environmental Quality Protection: Waste Management, agreed with the idea that it would be dedicated time and not dedicated courts. With regards to the focus on Mpumalanga he noted that this did not mean a singular court but rather a key area for the launch. He also highlighted that there were in fact four pilot court projects and that Mpumalanga was leading on these
Ms L McCourt, Chief Director, Environmental Quality Protection: Environmental Impact Management, answered that the EIA regulations, which related to mining, were impeding on the strength of the NEMA. The provisions of NEMA would only come into effect when the NPRDA came into effect. She stressed that, regardless of this issue, any activity within a mining area would still require environmental authorisation from the Environmental Authority.
Ms Yawitch noted the issue with mining. She expressed exasperation at the system, which was causing a cost to the country through the mining industry. She suggested it was in everyone’s interest to resolve the problem as soon as possible
Mr A Sheff, Acting Chief Operations Officer, explained to the Committee the nature of the relationship between the Special Planning Commission and the DEA. He informed the Committee that the DEA had members on this task team, as was the agreement with the National Planning Commission. He noted that in the developing the business and strategic plans of the Department that they had ensured that there was alignment with the National Plan.
Mr Will added that one of the commissioners on the NPC had been appointed to introduce environmental issues into the debate and planning processes. The DEA was working closely with this Commissioner.
Ms Lovemore expressed hope that the Department’s interactions with the National Planning Commission would be quite aggressive. She suggested the Department had tools, which would be useful to the NPC, particularly in areas where over mining was currently taking, as an example she raised the issue of Limpopo, place she asked for information on who would initiate an Environmental Investigation
Ms McCourt answered that their presentation to the NPC had specifically addressed how their special planning instruments, which the DEA has provision for within the NEMA, could be integrated into the Spatial Planning and Asset Management Act. She explained that if it was the case that every spatial development framework of every municipality was environmentally informed and if the land management of all sectors was bound by spatial planning then the outcome would be a more sustainable land use pattern. In terms of this legislation was still in the process of creation of development she added that in the mean time the DEA would continue to develop environmental management frameworks for areas that could be considered either environmentally sensitive or under development pressure. She stated that they were working closely with issues in the Limpopo and Mapungupwe area. She informed the Committee that Members would shortly be supplied with a list of all the areas where an environmental framework was in the process of development and their status.
Transfer of posts to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Mr Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director General, Corporate Affairs, informed the Committee that the Transfer had been completed. The process was finalised in April 2010. A total of 153 permanent posts stayed in the DEA and 738 posts were transferred to the DAFF. He noted that the Department had experienced challenges particularly around splitting the environmental, marine and support functions in such a way as to not hinder their ability to carry out their work. He informed the Committee that a new branch, Oceans and Coasts, was also created and that they had no other outstanding Human Resources issues relating to the split between the Departments.
Mr Skosana thanked the Department for implementing the split without issues. He asked for an update on vacancies in relation to the Department’s organogram
Mr Abader reminded the Committee that the split had initially happened first in May 2009. The initial split had taken place between Environment and Tourism; the second split, which had taken place in November 2009, had involved Fisheries and Environment. He acknowledged that the movement of people to other Departments would have created gaps; the Department was in the process of dealing with these through various means. He highlighted the need for funding and the constraints the Department had experienced constantly with regards to this.
The Chairperson asked for more information on the South African Tyre Recycling Association.
Ms Cobbinah reiterated that the Department was not aware of this body.
The Chairperson thanked the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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