Department of Environmental Affairs releases environmental compliance and enforcement report

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Tuesday, December 4, 2012

<p>The 2011/12 report is the fifth compliance and enforcement report that has been released since the inception of the Environmental Management Inspectorate also known as the green scorpions (Image source: Department of Environmental Affairs).</p>

The 2011/12 report is the fifth compliance and enforcement report that has been released since the inception of the Environmental Management Inspectorate also known as the green scorpions (Image source: Department of Environmental Affairs).

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has released their National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER) for the 2011/12 year. The report provides an overview of the environmental compliance and enforcement activities that were undertaken by environmental authorities during the 2011/12 period. “… [the report] highlight[s] the significant efforts of the environmental compliance and enforcement sector to ensure that principles of sustainable development, the polluter pays and the public trust doctrine do not remain as an ideological wishlist, but are practically implemented through the many inspections, investigations and other compliance and enforcement activities that make up the daily routine of these officials, “says Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director-General of Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement Branch at the Department of Environmental Affairs,  in the foreword of the report.

Eskom: Highest rate of non-compliance

Eskom has the highest rate of non-compliance with environmental legislation amongst state owned entities, according to the report. Eskom facilities that were found to be non-complaint included Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga, Matimba Power Station in Limpopo, and, Lethabo Power Station in the Free State. Some of the areas of non-compliance included exceeding emissions limits (Camden Power Station), storing waste water in dams without water use licenses (Lethabo Power Station), and operating a waste disposal site without a waste management licence (Matimba Power Station).

According to section 48 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), Eskom cannot be prosecuted as it is a state owned company. As a result the report indicates that “the DEA … will pursue criminal proceedings against specific individuals in their private capacities where they were responsible for these non-compliances and the elements of a crime can be proved.”

Criminal investigations are also taking place relating to activities at facilities owned by BHP Billiton, Arcelor Mittal, Highveld Steel, and Foskor.  

Focus on enforcement

In the 2011/12 period there has been an increase in the amount of resources directed at enforcement processes, according to the report. “It was identified during the previous financial year that the approach that had been adopted (i.e., providing the facilities a period of time to come into compliance) was not achieving the desired results. Accordingly, resources are now being focussed on criminal as well as administrative enforcement processes.” The report states that some level of progress has been achieved through this method, “We have seen some positive results following such enforcement action and many of the facilities have begun applying additional resources to addressing the contraventions identified.”

National Statistics

The report also covers individual cases of non-compliance, including illegal hunting and driving on the coastline without a permit, where the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) have made inspections and handed cases over to the National Prosecuting Authority. National statistics per province are available in the report including the number of inspections done, fines issued and arrests made. 

The tables below show enforcement statistics for the last three financial years (DEA, 2012. National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report)

Criminal Enforcement

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

Criminal dockets

2,877

718

1,080

J534s issued

1,615

1,498

Cases handed to NPA

282

234

201

Arrests by EMIs

2,384

1,988

1,339

NPA declined to prosecute

(“nolle prosequi”)

214

21

20

Acquittals

1,026

22

7

Convictions

673

72

82

Section 105A agreements

(plea bargains)

134

19

13

Amount of admission of guilt fines paid

(total amount)

R 2,509,793

R 867,010

R 470,080.00

 

Administrative Enforcement and Civil Actions

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

Warning letters written

827

176

459

Pre-directives issued

249

60

86

Pre-compliances notices issued

266

276

Directives issued

172

95

49

Final compliance notices issued

126

110

Civil court applications launched

10

6

7

S24G administrative fines paid

(total amount and number)

R 8, 874, 966

R 8,364,870

R 17,627,233

53

58

86

 

The 2011/12 report is the fifth compliance and enforcement report that has been released since the inception of the EMI.   Members of the public are encouraged by the Department of Environmental Affairs to report environmental incidents and crimes to their 24 hour hotline on 0800 205 005.

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Amanda Botes