Making sense of the flurry of environmental legal developments – keeping our clients compliant
Dear Colleagues and Clients
As environmental practitioner, I am often asked to explain ‘so what do you really do?’ I like to shake things up a little with answers people least expect. One such case was about ten years ago, in a planning session with a group of young environmental practitioners busy unpacking the ‘what do we do’ question – their answers varied from ‘promote sustainable development’, ‘optimise use of resources’, ‘reduce pollution’, ‘facilitate responsible development’ and so on … needless to say, they were a little taken aback when I answered ‘I keep my clients legally compliant’. They strongly argued: ‘Surely we must do more!’
In light of the flurry of environmental law and regulatory changes over recent months, my answer is now the same as ten years ago: ‘Of course we do more, but first we keep our clients legally complaint’. We assess the implications of all the different (new and old) environmental laws, regulations and norms and standards, and work with our clients to obtain and maintain compliance.
Here are some of the latest environmental law amendments:
• National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act, 2014 (NEMLAA).
• National Water Amendment Act, 2014 (NWAA).
• Changes to the listing notices of activities that require waste management licenses in terms of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (NEMWA).
• Publication of waste management norms and standards, in terms of the NEMWA.
Note: The NEMLAA amends the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA), the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (NEMWA) and the National Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2008.
Both the NEMLAA and NWAA are effective 2 September 2014 and have particular significance for mining operations.
The following draft regulations were published on 29 August 2014 and are open for public comment until 29 September 2014.
• Proposed new environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations.
• Proposed new listing notices of activities that require an environmental authorisation in terms of the NEMA.
Note: The proposed new EIA regulations intend to repeal the previous EIA regulations and listing notices published in June 2010.
Should you require clarification or more information, please contact us.
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