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Update on the National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill

26 February 2013 at 11:18 pm

Portfolio Committee for Water & Environmental Affairs Johnny de Lange (Photo: Sowetan Live)

Portfolio Committee for Water & Environmental Affairs Chairperson Johnny de Lange (Photo: Sowetan Live)

Update: Latest National Environmental Management Laws Second Amendment Bill [B13-2013] is now available. As at 19 June 2013, this Bill is in the National Council of Provinces.

The Centre for Environmental Rights keeps a close eye on any proposed amendments to our framework environmental legislation, the National Environmental Management Act, 1998. In 2012, the Minister of Environmental Affairs introduced the latest round of amendments to NEMA and the specific environmental management Acts: the National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill (B13-2012), or NEMLAB. NEMLAB proposed amendments to NEMA, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004; the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003; and the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004.

In September 2012, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs resolved to split the original NEMLAB into two separate amendment bills: the National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill (which deals with the “non-controversial” biodiversity amendments), and National Environmental Management Laws Second Amendment Bill (which deals with the non-controversial and controversial amendments to NEMA).

  • The National Environmental Laws First Amendment Bill, 2012 [B13B-2012] (NEMLAB1). As at 19 February 2013, this Bill was with the National Council for Provinces for concurrence, and provincial hearings would be arranged sometime in March 2013 by the Select Committee through the Provinces.
  • The National Environmental Laws Second Amendment Bill, 2012 [B13A-2012] (NEMLAB2). The version of the Bill uploaded here is the version submitted to the Portfolio Committee in February 2013. Also read the DEA briefing to the Portfolio Committee, as well as the table of the comments received on the original Amendment Bill [B13-2012], DEA and Portfolio Committee responses. The Centre for Environmental Rights is pleased to see that a number of our proposals were accepted by the DEA and the Portfolio Committee.

According to the DEA briefing, the main reason for the split was that the proposed amendments to biodiversity amendments were urgent to address most of the challenges relating to the permitting system and the implementation of the new Threatened or Protected Species Regulations. NEMLAB2 proposes amendments to certain provisions of NEMA, and contains new additions and amendments proposed by the Department and the Portfolio Committee in order to enable the implementation of the provisions relating to environmental management planning, integrated environmental management and compliance and enforcement.

The Centre will publish more detailed comment on NEMLAB2 in due course.