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Centre for Environmental Rights - Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Pollution & Climate Change

Appeal to the Water Tribunal against the decision of the Department of Water and Sanitation to issue a water use licence

In February 2017, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) issued a water use licence (WUL) for water uses relating to the construction and operation of KiPower’s proposed coal-fired power station near Delmas in Mpumalanga Province. On 7 September 2017, the Centre for Environmental Rights, on behalf of groundWork, lodged an appeal against the decision with the Water Tribunal in terms of the National Water Act, 1998 (NWA). The following grounds of appeal have been raised in groundWork’s appeal:

  • water pollution from KiPower would violate the Constitution, the NWA and the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA);
  •  the factors under section 27 of the NWA as applied to KiPower should have resulted in the DWS refusing to issue the WUL;
  • the DWS has failed in its duty as public trustee of South Africa’s water resources;
  • the decision to issue the WUL is not in line with the section 2 principles of NEMA, in particular the requirement for a risk averse and cautious approach and the polluter pays principle;
  • KiPower does not have a WUL for several activities that fall under section 21 of the NWA;
  • the WUL conditions are unreasonably vague and therefore unenforceable; and
  • the decision to issue the WUL constitutes unlawful administrative action in contravention of PAJA

Appeal documents

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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National Environmental Crimes & Incidents Hotline (24 hours): 0800 205 005

In addition, there are a number of national and provincial hotlines that may be useful.

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