MINISTER BARBARA CREECY ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS WITH REGARD TO ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

MINISTER BARBARA CREECY ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS WITH REGARD TO ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, today briefed the media on the enabling provisions within the Disaster Management Act (DMA) Regulations that allow her to issue directions with regard to environmental matters.

The Minister emphasised that the enabling powers are not intended to by-pass environmental laws, nor are they intended to give blanket authorisations for future developments.

“The directives we are considering relate to expedited procedural requirements and shorter periods for decision-making. All directions that may be issued will require sufficient compliance with the concepts depicted in the environmental rights as set out in Section 24 of the constitution,” the Minister added.

Currently the Department can reduce decision-making timeframes from 107 to 57 days for projects defined as Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs). The intention of the DMA Regulations, and any Directions to be developed in terms thereof, is the streamlining of the application- and decision-making processes for environmental authorisations, waste management licences, atmospheric emission licences, condonations and exemptions associated with energy generation, transmission and distribution facilities and associated infrastructure, for the duration of the national state of disaster.

Currently the following has been identified as potential special arrangements to be set out in the Directions to be issued:
• Expedited procedural requirements for activities that may otherwise be subjected to the scoping and environmental impact reporting process;
• Shorter periods stipulated between the submission of an application and the submission of reports for decision-making;
• A shortened period and adapted requirements for public participation e.g. 14 days as opposed to the current 30 days minimum;
• Shortened decision-making timeframes, e.g. 57 or 60 days as opposed to 107 days.

It is worth noting that the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is participating in the One Stop Shop process envisaged to streamline and speed up the provision of assistance and guidance to potential applicants and to guide on specifics in relation to applications submitted for the various authorisations and licences required for energy generation, transmission and distribution facilities and associated infrastructure.
It should be noted that rooftop solar installations do not require an environmental authorisation.

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