The quality of environmental impact reports in the North West Province, South Africa
Pretorius, Hester Magdalena
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In October 2000 the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism commenced a program to streamline environmental assessment legislation and administration to address certain limitations in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, which had been mandatory in South Africa since 1998 in terms of regulations promulgated in terms of the Environment Conservation Act in 1997. These new EIA regulations were published on 21 April 2006 and came into effect on 1 July 2006. To determine the effectiveness of these changes in the EIA process, it is important to determine the quality of the Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) performed under the old EIA system as a baseline study, and compare these results against the quality of the EIRs under the new EIA system. The aim of this study was to develop a review package to determine the quality of EIRs conducted under the 1997 regulations in the North West Province of South Africa. This review package was based on a review package developed by Lee et al. in 1999. Each review topic's applicability to South African circumstances was evaluated and adapted or changed to compile the South African review package. The South African review package was tested on a number of case studies and further changes were made to the review package. The final review package was applied to a second group of case studies. The results showed that Review Area 1 - Description of the Development, has been generally well defined with a satisfactory rating of 75%. Review Area 2 - The Identification and Evaluation of Results (72%) and Review Area 3 - Alternatives and Mitigation (66%) were the two review areas with the lowest frequency of satisfactory scores and Review Area 4 - Communication and Results were the best of all the areas with a (94%) satisfactory score. The final result shows that 81% of the EIRs submitted in the North West Province of South Africa are generally of satisfactory quality, although many shortcomings were observed.