Barbara Creecy, Environment Minister, Forestry, Fisheries and Forestry, has proposed a public consult process that will receive all inputs to the various appeals relating to air quality issues currently being considered.
Creecy currently handles appeals against several decisions of the department’s National Air Quality Officer. These include requests for suspension or postponement of compliance to the Minimum Emission Standards, and the issuing provisol atmospheric emission licences (PAEL).
According to the department, some appeals were granted while others were denied.
“Subsequently to the decision of the National Air Quality Officer (the Minister), there have been several appeals by affected and interested parties against the various decisions made by the Officer. Eskom, other industries, and a variety of non-governmental organizations are among the appellants.
“Due to complex and conflicting issues raised in the appeals, the Minister is of opinion that a consultative procedure will assist in ensuring all issues arising out of the appeals can been addressed in a meaningfully and resolute fashion,” the department stated in a statement.
Section 3A (National Environmental Management Act) gives the Minister the power to create any forum or advisory board to address environmental issues.
The department stated that the consultative process would deal with issues that impact the environment, in particular air quality and the health of citizens. It will also address issues relating to energy supply security and sustainable development within the country.
The department stated that Creecy had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa for permission for the Presidential Climate Commission to oversee, facilitate, and conduct the proposed consultative processes.
“This will allow appellants, interested and affected parties to make representations regarding the outcomes of the process. It is important to note that the consultative processes will not condone noncompliance with the minimum emission standards and will not affect any present or future criminal actions against non-compliance,” explained the department.
According to the department, the appeal process is being held in abeyance pending the outcome from the consultative process.
(With inputs from South African Government Press release)