South Africa has a wide range of industries supporting the economy. Many of these industries either rely on fossil fuels or generate emissions from fossil fuels used in the processes. These emissions and air pollutants are a cause of concern to regional health and to the greater contribution of climate change. The South African government, in a bid to control and mitigate the possible impact, gazetted the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004. The act makes provision for the regulation of specific industrial activity which may lead to the generation of atmospheric emissions and lays the groundwork in which manner such an activity may be undertaken.

Atmospheric emissions licenses (AEL) are therefore obligatory under the National Air Quality Act 39 of 2004 (the Act) for activities that result in atmospheric emissions which have a significant negative environmental impact, as listed in Government Notice 893 of November 22, 2013. Should a person or company operate an activity that requires an AEL, without having a valid AEL in place, they are in contravention of the Act and could be held liable for obtaining an AEL for the operations undertaken and be required to pay a fine.

Fines for conducting an activity without an AEL are calculated at a rate per year operating the activity. The current rate is R 200 000.00 per year operating and can include an additional R1 million if the activity was undertaken in a declared Priority Area in terms of section 18 of the Act. This fine can reach a total of up to R5 million. These fines are regulated as per the Regulations for the procedure and criteria to be followed in the determination of an administrative fine in terms of section 22a of the Act, GN 332, 8 March 2016. The purpose of these regulations was to specifically provide a procedure and criteria to be followed in the determination of an administrative fine with an application is submitted in terms of Section 22A.

If you have been undertaking a listed activity without the appropriate AEL, you may apply for an AEL in terms of Section 22A. The AEL application will then be processed and a fine calculated on the above towards issuance of an authorised AEL.

Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) offers a wide range of services, including the compilation and preparation of Atmospheric Emissions Licences. If you may require a cost-effective solution, please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified and experienced specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or

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