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Wings Park Port Elizabeth (Pty) Ltd v MEC for Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Eastern Cape Provincial Government & Others (14 June 2018)

14 June 2018

High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, Grahamstown 

Case Number: 3917/17

Date: 14 June 2018

Judge: Plasket J

In this matter, the Court found that internal appeals under the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 are wide appeals. Plasket J described such appeals as “a determination de novo where the decision in question is subjected to reconsideration, if necessary on new or additional facts, with the body exercising the appeal power free to substitute its own decision for the decision under appeal.

In the matter, the Eastern Cape provincial department responsible for environmental affairs (the MEC) dismissed an appeal against the decision of the Eastern Cape Provincial Department  responsible for environmental affairs (DEDEAT) to grant environmental authorisation to the Wings Park Port Elizabeth (Pty) Ltd (Wings Park). Wings Park challenged the refusal by the DEDEAT to grant environmental authorisation to it on review, but chose not to challenge the decision of the MEC to dismiss its internal appeal.

The Court held that even if Wings Park was successful on review, the matter was moot because the internal appeal was a complete re-hearing of the application by the MEC and the decision of the MEC (dismissing the application for environmental authorisation) remained valid because Wings Park had not challenged it in its judicial review.

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Section 24of 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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