Air Quality Management Bill and NEMA Second Amendment Bill: briefing


27 January 2004
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Meeting report


Environmental Affairs and Tourism Portfolio Committee
27 January 2004
Air Quality Management Bill and NEMA Second Amendment Bill. Department Briefing

This is an edited version of a report produced by kind courtesy of Contact Trust:

Ms Gwen Mahlangu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department briefing on NEM Air Quality Bill
Department Objectives for 2004
Committee Programme
Department briefing on Air Management Bill (not available; summarised in minute)

The Committee heard the Department present their objectives for the year 2004/05. After this, Mr Fourie took the Committee through the NEMA amendments and Mr Lukey dealt with the amendments on the Air Quality Management Bill effected during the NCOP process. The Chairperson outlined the programme of the Portfolio Committee.

The Chairperson outlined the provisional programme of the Committee and further reported that, on 20 February, there would be formal deliberations on the Air Quality Management Bill. She also reported that because the issue of the Richstersveld had not been properly addressed, it had to come back to the Portfolio Committee.

Dr C Olver (Director General) briefing
The DG said that this year would be busy, especially with outstanding legislation. His presentation would not reflect figures since this was the prerogative of the Minister of Finance to do so during the upcoming Budget Speech.

The Chairperson expressed satisfaction with the Department’s emphasis on promoting domestic tourism. He had not mentioned the World Travel Market in Germany that she considered a success. She asked for clarity on the transferral of the Working for Water Programme from the Department of Water Affairs to DEAT.

The DG responded that the matter had been under discussion for some time. The programme was being co-managed by three departments. The view had been that, logically, Working for Water Programme belonged to DEAT. There would also be transfer of subprogrammes like Working for Wetlands to National Biodiversity Institute.

Mr Arendse (ANC) asked how the second economy influenced the Department, and whether consensus existed on this second economy.

The DG replied that when people captured statistics, they did not cover the second economy that affected those with the least access to capital and entrepreneurial skills. The President encouraged an integrated approach among all departments to play a role in understanding this second economy.

Mr Arendse then asked how the allocation of 12 new fisheries would ensure inclusivity, given the legacy of apartheid where coastal communities are predominantly ‘coloured’ people. He said they needed to protect "ordinary people from being robbed by unscrupulous people".

The DG responded that in terms of new fisheries, they needed to empower coastal communities.

Mr Moorcroft (DA) was happy with the objectives of the Department and was hoping for constructive participation.

Mr Kalako (ANC) wanted to know if interns working there were absorbed by the Department. He had heard of frustrations experienced by interns in the Marine and Coastal Management Branch of the Department.

The DG was concerned when he heard about the situation of interns and he promised to take up the issue.

When the Department spoke about 66% Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) transformation in the fishing industry, Mr Kalako wanted to know if that referred to the number of companies or the sum of their resources.

The DG responded that he was referring to the number of companies. There might be charters for both fishing and tourism industries, but that would depend on the new Minister.

Ms Chalmers wanted to know how the Department was addresses the tourism market and prices.

The DG replied that people viewed South Africa as a value-for-money destination. Overpricing should not lead to the projection of a negative image.

Ms Chalmers asked know how the Department would deal with the transfer of landfill sites.

Dr Lukey responded that the transfer was not cut and dried. Water Affairs was still an active partner. A memorandum of understanding was signed with DWAF on how the two Departments could work together. The Air Quality Bill was not a panacea. Over the next couple of months, the Department would be looking at hotspots and reviewing licences. Oil refineries were a problem and together with DME, they were prioritising this issue.

Ms Chalmers also wanted to more know about the ‘Green Scorpions’.

Dr Lukey clarified that the term "Green Scorpions" was invented by the media and the correct name was Directorate: Enforcement. This was a specialist unit that led inspections. In terms of initial authorisation, the Directorate was not legally robust and the existence of the specialist unit would further strengthen capacity.

Professor Mbadi (UDM) wanted to understand the official position of the Department on the N2 Toll Road re-routing. He had heard people saying that there had been no consultation with communities and chiefs. He also asked whether the Department would look at permit regulation to avoid exploitation of the poor.

The DG responded that the issue of the N2 Toll Road had attracted media attention and misinformation. A number of NGOs had been saying that there had been no consultation but he refuted this claim. There had been over 30 public meetings around Amanzimtoti and East London, radio advertisements, and the views of about 300 interested and affected party were recorded. Every traditional leader in the area had been consulted. The National Roads Authority was a developer and the Department had looked at the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). He conceded that the Wild Coast area was under threat and there was pressure on natural resources. If that area was left unattended, it would be destroyed completely. The road is part of the broad strategy to encourage investment and protect assets. The serious debate was about mining versus tourism lobby groups.

Mr September (ANC) was touched by the experience of the interns in the Department. On the issue of permits, he felt there was a need to protect people making applications and to make forms simpler to understand.

The Chairperson also commented that she had spoken with some of these interns and they were qualified scientists. They were resisting being poached by the private sector.

Mr Ngwenya (ANC) commented on the oil spill in Durban and wanted to know, in the absence of appropriate legislation, what communities could do. He then called for centres to be set up to assist with training and information about safety at sea.

NEMA Second Amendment Bill briefing
Mr Fourie from the Department went thoroughly through the motivations for the bill, and briefly covered hightlights from each chapter. For the full details, please see the PowerPoint presentation attached.

Air Quality Management Bill: briefing
Mr Lukey, Deputy Director-General of Environmental Quality and Protection, placed the issue of air quality in the context of the second economy. He told the committee that KPMG conducted a study that showed that poor air quality costs 1,2 billion rand a year. A key factor for air quality is the burning of fossil fuel. Government is paying for this poor air quality. The Department sees the Bill as an investment in health, social and environment development. Air quality has been overlooked for many years. The issues of Ozone Layer Depletion and Climate Change were never considered. The Environmental Services Sector would absorb South African expertise. APPA only promotes negotiations and compromise. He told the committee that licencing will have a monitoring regime. The Bill is framework legislation and regulations later on will provide details.

The NEM: Air Quality Bill is a paradigm shift from limited, sourced based emission control to ambient air quality management.

Mr Lukey also noted that the issue of air pollution carries high social, economic and environmental costs that are seldom borne by the polluter - APPA is difficult to enforce and penalties for non compliance are low. He mentioned that many South Africans live and work in areas where the air is harmful to their health and well being - APPA has allowed the development of air pollution 'hotspots'. Economic growth in certain areas of the country with high growth potential is being hampered by poor quality of air in these areas.

The need for new air quality management is premised on the fact that contaminated air cannot be remedied and, thus, pollution minimisation is the only sustainable means by which air quality can be improved - APPA provides little incentive for a move to cleaner production. Ambient air quality standards define public air that is not harmful to health and well being - APPA sets no standards. In summary, APPA is outdated and unconstitutional, he told the committee.

Ms Chalmers wanted to know if the rollover would have timeframes and review what is appropriate.

Mr Moorcroft welcomed the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.


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