Legislative requirements for environmental compliance auditing in South Africa stems from the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (Act No. 107 of 1998) [as amended]. Of particular importance is Section 28 (1) of NEMA which places an obligation on all individuals to take due care of the environment and to ensure remedial action is instituted to prevent and/or minimise and mitigate environmental impacts. This is referred to as the Duty of Care principle and sets out responsibilities to all organisations to prevent, minimise and remediate environmental degradation.
In terms of this Act, it is clear that an individual responsible for environmental damage incurs a duty towards both the environment and human health and the preventative measures to reduce or prevent additional pollution and / or environmental damage from occurring. NEMA and its related acts further set requirements towards specific environmental management actions and external compliance auditing requirements. These include:
- The NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (GN 983; 984; 985) [as amended] regulating the requirements and issuance of Environmental Authorisations (EA) and their content. EA’s are issued in terms of NEMA by the respective Competent Authority on provincial or national level. The EA as issued contains a set of conditions which must be adhered to.
- The National Water Act (Act No. 36 of 1998) [as amended] regulates through the various sections the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources; regulation of flow and control of all water; prevention of pollution to watercourses; and lists of water uses requiring a water use registration or licence. These water uses recorded in a Water Use Licence must be assessed for compliance to the requirements as set out therein.
- The National Environmental Management: Waste Act (Act No. 59 of 2008) [as amended] set forth a general duty in respect of waste management, measures towards the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste and the extended producer responsibility. In addition, the Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013 (GN: 634 – 635) sets out General requirements for storage of waste, prohibition of unauthorized disposal and littering among others. Activities undertaken in terms of the act and regulations require the registration of facilities or application for authorising a listed waste management activity, usually resulting in a Waste Management Licence which must be assessed for compliance to the requirements as set out therein.
- The National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (Act No. 39 of 2004) [as amended] set out the requirements for the use and prohibition of controlled fuels, control of dust and emissions, control of noise and offensive odours. Activities are listed which when undertaken, requires an Atmospheric Emissions Licence to be held for the activities. These licence applications are assessed at provincial or national level and result in the issuance of a Licence for the specific activities. Organisations have to ensure compliance is maintained in terms of the requirements of the licence and depending on the requirements, be assessed externally for compliance to licence stipulations.
Environmental Compliance audits require the assessment of operations and activities undertaken against their operating licences. Often these require operations to maintain mitigation and pollution prevention measures which must be checked and reported on a regular basis. As part of the audits undertaken by ENVASS, we verify maintenance activities are undertaken both by reviewing operational documentation and viewing of structures, facilities and equipment on site. Visual records are kept and reported within the audit report as verifiable, documented evidence. ENVASS auditors are specialists in the fields of reviewing compliance with Environmental Authorisations and licences providing assurance as an external company of activities undertaken in accordance with licence conditions.
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