Environmental management is no easy task especially when legislation is fragmented; constantly changing and various different authorisations are required from numerous different governmental departments. Obtaining the necessary authorisations can be costly, time-consuming and simply quite confusing at times and there seems to be quite a lot of duplication of work in the South African Environmental Management System. One activity often requires consultation and multiples licenses from different authorities requiring multiple licenses, duplicated monitoring and reporting.
The necessary authorisations are prescribed in our National, Provincial and Local Legislation. Screening is undertaken in order to determine which licenses and whether BIAs or EIAs are necessary. Therefore it is key that the companies seek sound advice from the necessary experts in order to advise on the law, the environmental application processes as well to provide the scientific research and data to back up authorisation, amendment and/other applications.
In demonstrating the multiple benefits of the collaboration of experts, the following case study is presented.
Zinchem purchased a land with a “historic waste disposal area”.
The collaboration of experts facilitated in Sound legal and environmental consulting services which resulted in:
- Consulting with and making representations with authorities on matters relating to the WML and water issues.
- A successful application to dispense with the need for a water use licence in terms of the National Water Act in that the WML will cover such requirements as per section 22(3) of the Act.
- A successful WML application in order to cap the historical waste disposal area on site as opposed to disposal at a hazardous waste disposal facility.
- Cost savings and other related benefits.
Zinchem sought to decommission and cap the historic waste disposal area. This triggered the need to apply waste management license (WML) and a basic assessment in terms of 2014 EIA Regulations. The question then arose whether or not a water use licence (WUL) would be required in terms of section 21(g) [disposing of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact on a water resource] of the National Water Act (NWA).
Zinchem appointed the following team of experts to assist with the matter which saw the collaboration of different expertise:
- GREEN GAIN CONSULTING [Environmental Legal Experts]
- CHEMC ENVIRONMENTAL [Environmental Consultants]
- EXIGO3 [Environmental Hydrogeologists]
Green Gain Consulting was appointed for legal advice in this matter and the drafting of a legal opinion as to whether or not a WUL would be necessary. Green Gain advised, amongst others, that Section 22(3) of the NWA provides the following that a responsible authority may dispense with the requirement for a license for water use if it is satisfied that the purpose of this Act will be met by the grant of a license, permit or other authorisation under any other law.
This essentially meant that Zinchem could demonstrate that its WML could fulfil the purposes of the NWA that the need for a WUL could be dispensed with. This would have to be backed up by scientific evidence undertaken by the correct experts and clearly set out in the WML application along with a section 22(3) application in terms of the NWA. The three experts collaborated in ensuring that the WML application addressed the issues regarding water resource protection by undertaking the necessary hydrological studies and holding meetings with the relevant authorities. In doing this the WML application showed sufficient grounds that the WML could sufficiently meet the same purposes of the NWA and the need for a WUL was dispensed with in terms of Section 22(3) of the NWA.
Zinchem was awarded it WML without the need for a separate WUL to ensure water protection on site; these issues were provided for in the WML and environmental management programme to the satisfaction of the Department of Water and Sanitation.
- Not having to apply for a WUL resulted in a saving in excess of R30 000.00 as well as time as these applications can take up to a year. Time is money!
- The capping of the waste dump on site as opposed to hauling the waste to a hazardous waste landfill site saved the company in excess of R 40 000 000.00
There are further indirect benefits in the dispensing with the need for the WUL:
- Duplicated monitoring; often licenses will prescribe similar monitoring but they are often not aligned creating different monitoring duties to comply with upping costs;
- Duplicated reporting; more licenses call for more auditing (internal and external) which requires capacity and funding to be set aside each year.
In issuing just one license the monitoring and reporting will be aligned thus lessening the compliance burden and actually making it easier to ensure compliance as we know often too many licenses with numerous monitoring, auditing and compliance conditions can be difficult to keep up with – often a problem in SA.
This case study really displays that investing in appointing knowledgeable experts and that the collaboration of experts can facilitate cost savings, lessen the compliance burden (duplication of monitoring and reporting) and ensure that your applications are brought under the correct advice in avoiding unnecessary administrative responsibilities and applications.
Green Gain wishes to thank Exigo3 and ChemC Environmental for the pleasure in collaborating on this successful application and to another satisfied client.