The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism explained the proposed amendments to the National Environmental Management Amendment Bill as introduced in the National Council of Provinces. They said that the Director General of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) had requested that DWAF officials also be designated as Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) as DEAT officials were. The crux of the amendments was giving effect to this request. Hence one amendment proposed the inclusion of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No 36 of 1998) in the definition of “a specific environmental management Act”. It also introduced a new clause 31BA in NEMA to give the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry powers to designate DWAF staff as EMIs. Coupled with this power was the power to withdraw such designation if need be. The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry would be able to designate an official from other organs of state as an EMI, by agreement. The Committee was unanimous in its support for the NCOP amendments and the Bill was adopted.
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) delegation comprised of Ms Nosipho Ngcaba Director-General, Ms Joanne Yawitch, Deputy Director General: Environmental Quality and Protection, Mr Mark Jardine, Senior Adviser and Ms Linda Garlipp, Chief Director: Legal Services. The State Law Advisor Office was represented by Mr Herman Smuts. The DEAT briefed the committee on the proposed amendments by the NCOP on the National Environmental Management Amendment Bill.
Ms Yawitch emphasized that the DEAT had worked hand in hand with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). The Director General of DWAF had requested that DWAF officials also be designated as Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) as DEAT officials were. Hence the amendment was giving effect to this request. The amendment was formulated and agreed to by the NCOP and individual provinces.
The status quo prior to the amendment was that the National Water Act did not provide for DWAF officials to have EMI-type powers. This was becoming ever more important given that there was increasing collaboration between DEAT, DWAF and provincial and local environmental authorities since non-compliance with environmental and water legislation were often inter-related. The proposed amendment sought to increase the legislative powers of DWAF officials to undertake inspections and investigations into non-compliances with the National Water Act. It would promote consistency in the manner in which environmental and water related non-compliance would be dealt with, as well as promoting collaboration on cases of common interest to both DEAT and DWAF. Training, expertise, resources and knowledge would also be shared.
The specific amendment proposed the inclusion of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998) in the definition of “a specific environmental management Act”. It also introduced a new clause Section 31BA in NEMA to give the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry powers to designate staff of DWAF as EMIs. Coupled with this power was the power to withdraw such designation if need be. The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry would be able to designate as an EMI an official from others organ of state only by agreement. Ms Yawitch felt this amendment to be very positive.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) said that she hoped that there would not be any complications as DWAF officials might not be as keen to combat pollution as DEAT officials were.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked that if the DWAF EMIs were to be separate from the DEAT EMIs, was there any intention of unifying them. He asked if there were synergies where DEAT EMIs could build on water related issues. Would there be sectoral co-operation?
Ms Yawitch stated that there would be common training for DEAT and DWAF officials as EMIs.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) asked whether the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) was aware of the amendment and the issues related to it, given that mine exploration involved water as well. He asked to what extent was DME taken on board in the processing of this Bill. It would enable DME to be in sync with the agreement between DEAT and DWAF.
Ms Yawitch noted that once the NEMA Amendment Bill was passed, DME officials would eventually be trained as EMIs as well. There would be a broadening of training, having common procedures for EMIs. The DG of Water Affairs and Forestry had requested that DWAF officials be designated as EMIs. The Minister of Water Affairs had raised the issue of the amendment in an inter-ministerial committee. The point was made that the amendment was needed as the economy expanded. Referring to mining, she said that the licensing of water for mining rested with DWAF. She noted that there was already an agreement between DWAF and DME.
Mr D Maluleke (ANC) asked whether the agreement between DEAT and DWAF made provision for the Green Scorpions to take action where it had jurisdiction.
Ms Yawitch pointed out that where there was agreement, the Minister could designate an official from any organ of state as an EMI. So officials could be designated where water issues were being dealt with. She noted that benefits were already evident from the agreement between DWAF and DEAT.
The Chair asked the state law advisor, Mr Smuts, if he had any comments on the Bill.
Mr Smuts said that the Memorandum on the Bill did not refer to the latest amendments. He asked if the Committee suggested any changes to it.
The Chair said that there were no changes.
Mr Zita placed the Bill as amended before the Committee and it was unanimously adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Briefing, Consideration of Proposed Amendments by NCOP on National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill
- Briefing and Consideration of the Proposed Amendments by the NCOP on National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill
- National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill [B35B-07]: adoption of NCOP Amendments
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.