National Environmental Management Laws Second Amendment Bill [B13-2012]: adoption

Water and Sanitation

14 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee did a clause-by-clause review of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill. All clauses were accepted unanimously without comment by Members. Members were presented with the Committee Report on the Bill, which was also accepted unanimously with minor amendments. Members spent a short time discussing the Committee's programme.

Meeting report

The Chairperson took Members through the pack of documents presented to them. He then asked Members to consider the National Environmental Management Second Amendment Bill. Nine Members were present, which formed a quorum.

Members accepted Clause 1 – Definitions – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 2 – Amendments to Section 11 – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 3 – Environment outlook report – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 4 – Mainstreaming environmental management – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 5 – Amendments to Principal Act – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 6 – Amendment of Section 24E – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 7 – Amendment of Section 24F – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 8 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 9 – Amendment of Section 24G – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 10 – Amendment Section 24M – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 11 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 12 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 13 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 14 – Emergency situations – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 15 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 16, 17 and 18 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 19 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 20 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 21 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 22 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 23 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 24 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 25 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 26 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 27 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 28 unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 29 – Short title – unanimously.

Members accepted Clause 30 – Long title and Enactment – unanimously.

The Chairperson proposed that the whole Bill be accepted. Members agreed to this unanimously.

The Chairperson said that the ANC caucus was enthusiastic about the Bill, and he trusted that other parties felt the same. It would boost economic development. He was not sure when the Bill would be debated in the National Assembly, but it would presumably be during June 2013.

The Chairperson said that Members would be presented with the Committee Report later in the day. He went through some changes to the programme with Members. A study group was planned for later in the year, and he hoped that all Members could attend as this would be their only such visit in the current term of Parliament. This would replace the internal oversight visit if approved. There were delays in finalising the programme of Parliament for the second half of the year, but a number of meetings were planned for the current term.

Ms M Wenger (DA) suggested a visit to a recycling site.

The Chairperson asked Ms Wenger and Ms J Manganye (ANC) to investigate possibilities for study visits and for a programme for the Committee on World Environment Day.

Afternoon session
Committee Report on National Environmental Management Second Amendment Bill
The Chairperson read through the Committee Report on the Bill. The Committee had felt it prudent to split the original Bill into two, and the first of these had been adopted by the National Assembly on 14 November 2012 and in the National Council of Provinces on 7 May 2013, with amendments. The Second Amendment Bill had been arrived at after exhaustive debate and discussion as there had been serious constitutional and political challenges.

The Chairperson read further that the current Bill would adjust the time-frames for the preparation of environmental implementation and management plans. Four-yearly environmental outlook reports would be introduced. A new Section 23A would promote the mainstreaming of integrated, environmentally sustainable and sound management considerations into business processes. Section 24, the core section of the Act, would be amended to cater for sustainable development, effective tracking of environmental management systems and mainstreamed plans and processes by national and provincial departments, the use of the most appropriate environmental instruments and spatial tools in developmental decisions.

The Committee Report said that Clause 5 would amend section 24 to allow the Minister or Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) to lay the procedure for the preparation, evaluation and adoption of these instruments. Clause 6 would amend section 24C to clarify the procedure in identifying the Minister as the competent authority to issue environmental authorisation where there were international implications. Similar powers could be conferred on the Premier of a province where there were national implications.

The Committee Report continued that Clause 9 would amend section 24G to address many complaints from the public that applicants continued with unlawful activities on the assumption that their application to continue with such activities would be approved. Criminal prosecution would be still be possible in this case. For the first time the Minister would be able to act in terms of the Waste Act.

The Chairperson said that Clause 13 and 14 would clarify the distinction between an 'incident' and an 'emergency situation'. Clause 25 would consolidate the offences, penalties and defences into a single section where these were currently scattered across the Act.

The Chairperson said that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) would have to publish a notice in the Gazette to determine the procedure for compiling the environment outlook report. DEA would be required to develop guidelines relating to the development, content and use of voluntary instruments. Not all the clauses would be immediately applicable. Four clauses would come into effect at a later date.

The Chairperson asked Members to approve the report, with some minor amendments as discussed. Members accepted the report unanimously. He wanted the debate to be concluded in June 2013. It was an important Bill, and deserved a full debate. The process had worked smoothly, and he thanked the DEA staff present. They had worked diligently and with a smile. He felt that the Bill was good and was legally compliant.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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