National Environmental Management Second Amendment Bill, Protected Areas Bill; Environment Conservation Amendment Bill : briefin

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


23 September 2003

Chairperson: Reverend P Moatshe (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) National Environmental Management Act: Second Amendment Bill Powerpoint Presentation
DEAT Environment Conservation Amendment Bill Powerpoint Presentation
DEAT National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Bill Powerpoint Presentation
National Environmental Management Second Amendment Bill [B56 - 2003]
National Environmental Management:Protected Areas Bill [B39 - 2003]
Environment Conservation Amendment Bill [B 45B - 2003]

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism delivered the aforementioned bills to the committee for discussion. Some of these bills had been in the pipeline for a considerable time, and the department was keen to see the bills promulgated into law. Certain members felt that although this was the case, the bills still had to be deliberated on before approval.

Environment Conservation Amendment Bill[B 45 - 2003]
Dr E A Conroy (NNP) queried if the bill made provision for the recycling of used tyres?

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, (DEAT) replied that it did make provision for tyre recycling in the manner of expanding the minister's scope to regulate products which may pose a negative impact on the environment. Further, certain waste products like the plastic 2-litre Coca Cola bottle were becoming an environmental nuisance. This was one of a range of products not currently covered by legislation.

The Reverend Chabaku (ANC) envisioned a more integrated approach to legislation where there was co operation between areas such as health, water and the environment.

Mr Henk Smith (State Law Advisor), said that under the previous legislation, the minister was empowered to make regulation, not law. It was cumbersome and this made for a lot of red tape before legislation could be accepted as law.

The DEAT stated that the transfer of waste landfill sites was the result of formal consultation between the departments of Water and Land Affairs, and the DEAT. They had included the drawing up of a business plan to facilitate the transfer of the function to the DEAT and provinces.

Mr Bengu (Special Delegate, KZN) Felt these bills had been with the NCOP for months, why the haste in passing it in 2/3 weeks? He was wary of putting it through without input from the provinces.

Mr Windvoel (ANC) wanted clarity on a request of the DEAT to remove section 24C of the bill. It made sense to him to replace it.

Henk Smith agreed that it needed to be replaced.

Dr Conroy was eager to understand why this was necessary.

Henk Smith replied that under the present clause it required the NA and NCOP to create a committee specially to deal with this. The proposed amendment would allow it to come to parliament in a very streamlined way, without getting bogged down by laborious procedures.

Belinda Scott (Chairperson, Conservation and Environmental Affairs Portfolio Committee), wondered why it was coming to parliament at all?

Henk Smith replied that it was not in the bill formerly, members of the committee had requested it.

Ms Scott felt that it should revert to what it was, and did not support the proposed change.

Mr Windvoel said the Parliamentary Committee and NCOP utilized the opportunity to change, and this linked up with the Portfolio Committee.

The chair asked if the committee was happy with this.

National Environmental Management: Second Amendment Bill [B5:2003]
Mr Windvoel wanted clarification on the purpose of NEMA.

The DEAT replied that it would replace the prohibitions of ECA.

Mr Windvoel wondered why the legislation was so late, and rushed?

Dr Conroy asked if proper control were being arranged, were property developers paid a fee to accompany Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)? He mentioned the concept of Strategic Legislation Against Public Participation, where property developers took tax and ratepayers' associations to court where the associations had to pay their own legal costs. This often resulted in the scenario where they could no longer afford the costs of legal battles, and subsequently gave the developers the go-ahead. He wanted to know if it was possible to create a fund, or get a form of Legal Aid to assist these associations.

The DEAT replied the stipulations of NEMA were more specific than the former regulation, and the department was determined to make it work.

With regard to EIAs', there had been instances where proposals had been rejected by the department. The department wanted to find a way of mitigating the impact of environmental management to a more acceptable level. It was envisioned that practitioners would be part of formulating a regulatory standards body.

Reverend Chabaku expressed her irritation at the use of unfamiliar acronyms.

Mr Sulliman requested that there be uniformity in regulation for all provinces.

Mr Windvoel asked why it was necessary to make two amendments to the same bill in one year?

The DEAT replied it would deal with the question in the course of the following presentation.

National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Bill [B39:2003]
The Department stated that although there was a lot of legislation going through parliament, it had been working on this particular bill for four years, and that was why it was keen to get it passed.

Ms Scott asked with regard to section 48 (1)(b), what happened if ministers did not agree? And why did the Minister of the DEAT not have the power to cancel mining in protected areas?

Mr Windvoel questioned the gaps in the bill where whole sections of numbering had been excluded.

Antoinette Versveld (DA), said that although mining was a concern, no mention had been made of hunting, which she found to be a very important issue not dealt with by the bill.

The DEAT replied that those sections omitted dealt with national parks, which was covered in legislation by the relevant department.

Reverend Chabaku, who favoured a total ban on mining in protected areas, asked why there was not a total prohibition.

The DEAT answered that the Minister too felt there should be no mining in protected areas for reasons like the negative impact on the environment, and biodiversity. The reality the department had to deal with was that people held legal mining rights, and the department could either pay them out for this, or phase them out (which it was trying to do). Further, the responsibility for dealing with mining was a function of another minister.

On the question of hunting, the DEAT said that it was allowed in certain reserves. The DEAT minister was anti-hunting, even against the practice of culling as a management tool.

The chair regretted having to cut the meeting short on basis of time constraints.

Ms Versveld (IFP) reiterated that the question of hunting be dealt with.

The meeting was adjourned.


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