Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy, has proposed a public consultation process that will hear all inputs into the various appeals related to air quality matters currently being considered.
Creecy is currently dealing with several appeals against various decisions by the department’s National Air Quality Officer (NAQO) regarding requests for the suspension and postponement of compliance with the Minimum Emission Standards (MES) and the issuing of a provisional atmospheric emission licences (PAEL).
The department said while some of the appeals were granted, others were refused.
“Subsequent to the decision by the National Air Quality Officer, the Minister has received several appeals by interested and affected parties against the various decisions of the Officer. The appellants include Eskom, other industries and a range of non-governmental organisations.
“Due to the complex and conflicting nature of the issues raised in the appeals received, the Minister is of the view that a consultative process will assist in ensuring that all issues arising from the appeals can be addressed in a meaningful and resolute manner,” the department said in a statement.
Section 3A of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) empowers the Minister to establish any forum or advisory committee to deal with issues relating to the environment.
“The consultative process will deal with matters that have a bearing on the environment, in particular air quality, the health of the country’s citizens, as well as issues relating to the security of energy supply and sustainable development within our country,” the department said.
The department said Creecy has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to permit that the Presidential Climate Commission oversee, facilitate and conduct the proposed consultative process.
“This will allow the appellants and interested and affected parties to make representations on the outcomes of this process. It should be noted that the consultative process would not in any way condone non-compliance with the minimum emissions standards and will not impact on any present or future criminal action against non-compliance,” the department explained.
The current appeal process will be held in abeyance, pending the outcome of the consultative process, the department said.