Spacial Development Initiative (SDI) Policy; Environmental Management Framework: briefing


20 May 1998
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

20 May 1998

Documents handed out:
A national strategy for Integrated Environmental strategy management in South Africa - April 1998

The three guest speakers from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Christel van der Merwe, Thomas van Viegen and Petrus Gildenhuys were introduced.

Christel van der Merwe gave a brief overview of the Spacial Development Initiative (SDI) policy. Characteristics of the policy:
in areas in need of development and growth
receive political commitment
government AND private sector funding
Aims of policy:
job creation
private sector investment
economic growth
SDI areas in South Africa were shown on a map.
How is the department involved in SDIs?
in tourism and environmental management
members of department involved in SDI project management team
strategic environment assessment (CSIR also involved)
SDIs use an Environmental Management Framework which is discussed at a later stage. This strategy is accepted as a tool for addressing environmental concerns.

(Chairman) Is it possible to assess the development of SDIs?
SDIs are discussed at workshops held by the department, projects are presented to investors.

(Chairman) Who is involved in the discussions? Are they community-based?
There is a strategic planning unit, community often involved. Initiation is always at political level however.

Why new investment? What about existing investment eg. Saldanha Steel? When is there intervention?
These issues are being discussed in policy, as yet there are no mechanisms for monitoring this. Solution may be given in new bill (Friday, 22 May 1998).

What interaction is there with other departments? (ie. Are police involved in security?)
All departments are represented in SDI. At the moment it is at provincial level, need local level representation. It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure involvement of other departments.

Involvement of environmentally interested people eg. Universities, technikons, NGOs?
Needs to be discussed at provincial level. Is being investigated.

Thomas van Viegen presented the topic of the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) which is a part of Integrated Environmental Management (IEM).
The objectives of IEM are:
- a sustainable use of resources
economic growth with low environmental impact.
The development, process and institutional and regulatory mechanisms of IEM as well as the three procedures for IEM are explained in the documentation (Environmental Impact Management Discussion Document: A national strategy for IEM in South Africa, April 1998).

The IEM procedure involves screening, which identifies when an environmental impact study is needed and scoping, which identifies the issues involved.
The first IEM procedure, devised in 1989, is very complex and was modified in 1992 (6 documents). Both these procedures are good in theory but not in practice, screening is difficult.
The procedure modified in 1998 is much shorter and more streamlined.

An EMF is a combination of spacial (geographical) information and integrated policy. This requires environmental and socio-economic input on which parameters are set. The definition, purpose and functional development of EMFs are discussed in the documentation (Environmental Impact Management: Environmental Management Frameworks).

Purpose of EMFs:
identify conflict areas
support IEMs in South Africa
show 'red flag' areas of high environmental sensitivity
can address cumulative impacts
mechanism for environmental monitoring
EMFs used at beginning of IEM procedure.
Institutional and regulatory mechanisms apply at national, provincial and specific EMF levels.

Petrus Gildenhuys then presented a case study using the example of the Lubombo SDI in Northern KwaZulu Natal. Environmental data such as soil types, vegetation, land use and land cover using satellite imagery were shown for the area using digital information. Each feature has its own set of management parameters. The Lubombo SDI is also discussed in the EMF documentation.

A very brief question and answer session followed with questions fielded by all three speakers.

(Mabudafhasi) How is community involved?
Newsletters sent out, department provides background information, discussions held with community.

(Van Wyk) How is construction of buildings controlled? Need harmonious and comfortable buildings in sensitive areas.
Can have parameters for building limitations written into computer program (building heights, colours etc.). Standards and design criteria need to be set.
Is there legislation on type of building?
No, this still needs to be addressed.

Is there a mediating body to bring people together?
Conflict resolution mechanisms will be addressed when formulating the new bill.

Committee members in attendance:
Chairperson: Dr J. Benjamin
Dr Benjamin J
Chalmers J
Lekgoro MK
Mabudafhasi RT
Ndou AJ
Ratshitanga TR
Richards I
September RK
Shope NR
Tiry M
Vilakazi BH
Viljoen V

Mfayela SB
Vilakaki JN

Dewet JH
Van Wyk A
Dr Appelgryn MS

A New Concept in Integrated Environmental Management
By Thomas R. van Viegen
Policy, Forward and Scenario Planning

In the existing IEM procedure published in 1992 the basis for conducting EIAs have been largely through the ‘screening’ and ‘scoping’ phases of the IEM procedure. Screening can be defined as the mechanism which identifies if a development proposal would require an EIA or not, a process which precedes the EIA. Scoping can be defined as the mechanism that identifies the issues and the impacts which have to be addressed and dealt with in the EIA process. Both of these mechanisms work well in theory, however in practice screening proved to be exceptionally difficult. In 1992 the then Department of Environmental Affairs published a series of guidelines to facilitate the implementation of IEM in South Africa. These guidelines addressed a combination of two lists; firstly a list of activities – selected on the basis of their inherent potential to negatively impact on the environment; and secondly, a list of environments. These lists were to be used in a matrix format to determine whether an Environmental Assessment (EA) is necessary or not. In the development of the lists of activities and environments, problems were encountered with the latter. This was primarily due to the fact that there was no existing spatial framework within which to define the sensitivity of the environment. Subsequently the activities requiring EIAs were listed in terms of Article 21 of the Environment Conservation Act, and not the list of environments.

What is an EMF?
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEA&T) have developed a product which will address environments and environmental sensitivity within the context of IEM in South Africa, namely the Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs). The EMF is essentially a framework of spatially represented information (maps) connected to parameters. The level of sensitivity of the environment determines these parameters. The parameters provide a framework within which development should proceed in order for it to be environmentally sustainable. The EMFs are developed on a comprehensive base of environmental information as well as socio-economic priorities. It should be noted that the EMF is not a plan, which assign activities to certain areas, but rather a guiding framework within which development activities must take place.

The Purpose of the EMFs
The main purpose of the EMFs is to pre-actively identify areas of potential conflict between development proposals, and critical and sensitive environments. In support of IEM in South Africa, the EMFs will provide the information for the scoping phase in the IEM process by identifying the issues, which should be addressed during the decision making process. It would therefore help to focus EIAs or other decision-support instruments on the really important issues, and pre-actively ‘red flag’ areas of high environmental sensitivity.

Activities which will be addressed by the EMFs are those listed under Section 21 of the Environmental Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989), as those which may have a substantial detrimental effect on the environment.

The Functional Development
The EMFs consists of two distinct parallel categories of information compilation, namely the Environmental Data Input, and the Socio-economic Planning Priorities.

Firstly, all available and relevant spatial environmental information is included, to form a base upon which the EMF is developed. This information is assessed in terms of its potential or latent environmental sensitivity for development. Parameters are assigned to each of these sensitivity assessments. The parameters used may include standards, norms, values and criteria, where;
Standards are quantifiable limits with regards to volumes, concentrations and numbers. These relate mostly to polluting substances, development densities, and extraction quantities amongst others.
Values and Norms refer to the limits that are generally accepted by society.
Criteria relates to specific objectives that need to be attained in order to achieve a predetermined result.

Each of the information layers are integrated and merged into a single coverage to represent the Environmental Sensitivity Zones. The sensitivity of the zones is determined by the cumulative value of the assigned environmental parameters.

The second parallel spatial development are the socio-economic development realities (which include existing spatial plans, land use policies as well as expressed socio-economic needs such as regional development visions). They are assessed and integrated into an information layer representing the Strategic Management Zones. This integration process leading to the strategic management zone must be informed by extensive public participation to ensure that the norms and standards of society are adequately represented in the EMFs.

The integration of the Environmental Sensitivity Zones and the Strategic Management Zones form the Environmental Management Framework, defining the cumulative parameter evaluation against which planning and development proposals are to be evaluated.

Institutional Arrangements
The National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Provincial Environmental Authorities are concurrently responsible for the development and maintenance of the Environmental Management Frameworks. They are currently being done for the nine provinces on a regional scale. It is envisaged that in the future the provincial EMFs will form a national environmental framework. They are also being developed on a more detailed scale for selected areas and activities, such as for some of the Spatial Development Initiatives (SDIs) and Industrial Development Zones (IDZs). It is envisaged that these more detailed EMFs will be taken up into the provincial EMFs on completion, thereby strengthening the provincial frameworks with more detailed information for specified areas.

Legal Aspect and the Future of the EMFs
It is envisaged that once IEM becomes regulatory, and integrated into the new Environment Conservation Act, that the EMFs will have statutory standing as an integral part of IEM. With further research and development the EMFs will become a powerful system and tool in the sustainable use and management of environmental resources in South Africa.



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