Question NW2292 to the Minister of Environmental Affairs

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28 August 2017 - NW2292

Profile picture: Mente-Nqweniso, Ms NV

Mente-Nqweniso, Ms NV to ask the Minister of Environmental Affairs

With reference to the SA Air Quality Monitoring System and the SA Atmospheric Emissions Inventory Portal, (a) what is her department doing to improve the online portals to ensure that air quality monitoring data and atmospheric emission licences are accessible to the public and (b) what are the reasons that the atmospheric emission licences of big polluters, such as Sasol and Eskom, are not available on the portals?

Reply:

a) My Department has developed the South African Atmospheric Emission Licensing and Inventory Portal (SAAELIP). This portal consists two systems, one for the Inventory of National Atmospheric Emissions and the other is a Licensing System across the spheres of government responsible for the function of air quality management. The licensing system has public query tab that allows members of the public to view Atmospheric Emission Licenses (AELs) that have been issued in the system. Since the launch of the Licensing System in September 2015, around 69 AELs have been issued through the portal and these are available on the system. Some licenses were issued before the licensing system was developed; note that for AELs to be available in the portal they need to be digitised, all the existing AELs (before the system AELs) issued prior to the launch of the portal must be processed in the system before they can be available to the public. These AELs will become available on the portal once they are processed in the system when they are either reviewed, renewed, varied or transferred, otherwise they are available in hard copies to the public save for proprietary information.

b) The reason that some AELs for example, Sasol and Eskom AELs, are not yet available in the system is that, they were issued long ago before the portal were established. They will be available in the portal once digitised as I have just said. Stakeholder feedback is received by the Department on a regular basis and the system is enhanced from time to time to ensure it stays user friendly and relevant.

The question on ambient air quality monitoring is a separate one. We are monitoring ambient air quality across the country band, the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) that provides information to the public on the state of air quality across the country. The SAAQIS is being upgraded in order to enable live reporting of information to the public and system upgrade will be completed by the end of 2017. However, data is available now in the current system, with its limitations – hence we are upgrading it, otherwise members of the public are given available data upon request where the current system fails to provide such data.

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