National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act

Written by EnviroPrac

October 27, 2023

It is most noteworthy for those of us facilitating environmental licensing processes, that the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act was published in June 2022 (Act No. 2 of 2022).

A few items of particular interest, are:

Section 28 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA): the NEMLA includes municipal managers (and as we understand it, their municipal Environmental Management Inspectors or EMI’s) as authorities with power to take action where any person is causing significant pollution or degradation to the environment. Our understanding is that this would mean in practice, that a municipal EMI may issue a Directive in terms of NEMA. We look forward to further clarification of this from the authorities.

The definition of “waste” contained in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMA) has been expanded: The definition now makes clear that even if a material is commercially valuable, if the generator has no further use for the material in his own key manufacturing process, then the material must still be defined as waste.

Section 24C (11) of the NEMA: the NEMLA now makes provision for simultaneous processing and issuing of applications and decisions in terms of the NEMA, NEMWA and the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (NEMAQA). Again, we look forward to the authorities arranging stakeholder engagement to clarify how this should be effected in practice.

Section 24G of NEMA and Section 22A of NEMAQA: The wording pertaining to ex post facto applications for Environmental Authorisation (under NEMA Section 24G) and for an Atmospheric Emissions Licence (under NEMAQA Section 22A) has been changed by the NEMLA. The wording now reads that the authorities must direct an applicant to cease the activity for which ex post facto authorisation is being applied, until such time as a decision on the application is issued. It will be most interesting to see how the authorities intend to effect this change in practice.

The NEMLA is available here for review and download.

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