05 July 2007

SA environment deteriorating

Government needs to strengthen the National Environment Management Act as South Africa's environment is deteriorating.


Government needs to strengthen the National Environment Management Act as South Africa's environment is deteriorating, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

The DA's spokesman on environmental affairs, Gareth Morgan, said the State of the Environment Report, released last week, showed a general decline in the country's environment.

Unsustainable exploitation
"The report notes among other things that increasing pollution and declining air quality are harming people's health, and that natural resources are being exploited in an unsustainable way, threatening the functioning of ecosystems."

Morgan said these indicators could not be taken lightly as the success of the country's economy requires a healthy environment.

He added that proposed amendments to the act, which were recently released for public comment, were of great concern.

The proposals include giving the minister and MECs the power to grant exemptions from environmental impact assessments and provisions of the act that deal with environmental authorisations.

No public participation
"There is no guidance given to the minister and the MECs on how to exercise this discretion, and there is no provision made for public participation in the making of these decisions," he said.

The amendments, if passed, would not help reverse current trends, argued Morgan.

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