Co–operative environmental governance: alignment of environmental authorisations in the province of KwaZulu
Jikijela, Sgananda Malibongwe Lwazi
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The main legislation governing environmental authorisation in South Africa is the National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1998 (NEMA). This legislation is administered by the environmental affairs departments at national, provincial and local spheres of government. Besides NEMA, there are other pieces of legislation which govern environmental authorisation and, in some instances, are administered by other organs of state. They, like NEMA, require submission of reports to authorities for decision-making. This may result in cumbersome and duplication of processes; which in turn, may delay the initiation of development activities. NEMA provides for co-operative governance, coordination of activities and alignment of processes to counter the above problems. Section 24L states that activities regulated in another law may be regarded as sufficient for authorisation in terms of NEMA, and vice versa. Furthermore, section 24K provides for consultation and coordination of legislative requirements to avoid duplication. Flowing from these provisions is that competent authorities may exercise their powers by issuing separate or integrated authorisations. All these provisions aim to promote smooth and seamless interactions between all key role-players involved in authorisation processes. However, there are widespread concerns amongst key role-players and the public at large about the lack of application and/or implementation of the foregoing legislative provisions. This study investigates these concerns through a literature review, case study analysis and administration of a questionnaire. The results show that the fruits of these provisions (i.e. coordinated activities, aligned processes and/or integrated authorisations) in the province of KwaZulu-Natal have yet to be realised. This study recommends, therefore, that clear guidance be provided to provinces on how to implement the legislative provisions described above.