NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT REPORT RELEASED

By Melissa Strydom,Claire Tucker Friday, November 10, 2017
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Earlier this week, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) published its annual National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report for 2016-2017 (the Report). The Report can be accessed here.

The Report provides information on compliance and enforcement action taken by different environmental authorities (including the DEA, provincial departments and the Department of Water and Sanitation), in terms of environmental laws in South Africa, over the past year. It includes statistics of the different steps and action (including administrative or criminal action) taken by the authorities.  It names entities which have been subject to compliance action, and the nature of the non-compliances identified at such facilities.

A few highlights from the Report:

In the industrial sector, the following areas remain strategic priority sectors for proactive compliance monitoring and enforcement (as identified in previous reporting years):

  • ferro-alloy, steel and iron;
  • refineries;
  • power generation;
  • cement; and
  • paper and pulp.

There also appears to be a larger focus on:

  • compliance with the conditions of atmospheric emission licences as air quality is a priority area for enforcement; 
  • coastal water discharges, particularly discharges from waste water treatment facilities; and
  • water treatment facilities and landfill sites.

Based on the Report, there appears to be a general increase in a number of the enforcement statistics from the previous year, for example, there has been an increase in the number of:

  • environmental management inspectors;
  • criminal dockets registered and matters handed to the National  Prosecuting Authority for criminal prosecution;
  • facilities inspected;
  • pre-directives, pre-compliance and final compliance notices issued; and
  • fines paid pursuant to rectification applications.

It is important for businesses to ensure compliance with environmental laws. They also need to consider the implications of any non-compliance findings thoroughly at the outset, to address these appropriately and avoid compliance and enforcement action.

For further information, please contact Claire Tucker, partner and Melissa Strydom, senior associate in the Public Law and Regulatory Practice.