On 9 September 2020, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries published new directions regarding environmental permits and licences under the COVID-19 disaster management framework.
We previously reported on the Covid-19 framework applying to environmental matters. The first set of environment-related directions were published on 31 March 2020 (and have since been repealed), and have been followed by the Alert Level 3 directions which were published on 5 June 2020 (and which remain in force). The new directions are to be read with the repealed directions and the Alert Level 3 directions.
The new directions provide that where licensing or regulatory timeframes were suspended, extended or deemed to be extended under the previous directions (i.e. in respect of EA validity periods, environmental audit reporting periods, appeal periods, NEMWA/NEMAQA licences / exemptions, receipt of applications for waste management licence transfer or amendment of contaminated land remediation orders), and
- these processes, services or actions were not resumed in terms of the Alert Level 3 directions, but are resumed under Alert Level 2 or lower Alert Level, then the appropriate actions and steps must be taken in terms of the applicable legislation, in order to avoid the lapsing or expiry of such decisions or processes:
- within 30 days of the publication of these new Directions (i.e. by 9 October 2020); or
- if the outstanding actions or steps cannot be concluded within the above 30-day period, then they must be concluded within such period that is deemed appropriate and reasonable, following agreement with and confirmation by the relevant authority in writing by 9 October 2020. In addition, such agreed period must be communicated by the applicant, holder of the decision, appellant or any other responsible party, without undue delay, to all parties affected by such process or decision; OR
- these processes, services or actions were resumed in terms of the Alert Level 3 directions, then they must continue subject to adherence to any applicable extended timeframes as contemplated in the Alert Level 3 directions (i.e. an additional 60 days for waste tyre export authorisations or 21 days from resumption of previously suspended activities/processes in terms of paragraphs 4.2 or 4.3 of the Alert Level 3 directions) or any agreements reached regarding a specific decision or process between the relevant parties as contemplated in the Alert Level 3 directions.
These Directions will apply for the period of the national state of disaster.
Written by Paula-Ann Novotny, an Associate & Lucia Selaelo, a Candidate Attorney at Webber Wentzel