In July 2019, the Centre of Environmental Rights (CER) released a report: Full Disclosure. The Truth about Mpumalanga Coal Mines Failure to Comply with their Water Use Licences (can be found on the CER’s website by following the https://cer.org.za/news/new-full-disclosure-report-how-a-broken-regulatory-system-allows-mpumalanga-coal-mines-to-pollute-water-with-impunity
). The report outlines the dismal picture of environmental compliance to Authorisations (specifically Water Use Licences in this case), inadequate compliance reporting by consultancy companies, the lack of monitoring compliance by the Competent Authority and the absence of accountability to non-compliances reported.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 2014 as promulgated in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act no. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) defines an environmental audit report as: “a report contemplated in regulation 34”. Regulation 34 of the EIA Regulations in turn requires an environmental audit report to be completed by an independent person with the relevant environmental auditing expertise to provide verifiable findings in a structured and systematic manner. This requirement places the responsibility on the Holder of the Environmental Authorisation (i.e. Environmental Management Programme, Environmental Authorisation, Record of Decision, Water Use Licence, Waste Management Licence or Atmospheric Emissions Licence) to evaluate the independence and expertise of the auditing consultant to ensure compliance with Regulation 34 of the EIA Regulations.