Generally, in terms of environmental management, continuous improvement and enforcement of approved authorisations as completed in an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process have been slow and in most cases completely inexistent. To improve on this aspect, the appointment of on-site Environmental Control Officers (ECOs) have been widely applied. In South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has provided guidelines for Environmental Management Programmes (2005), in which one of the client’s responsibilities is to appoint an ECO regarding the entire duration of the project. The ECO has a direct link to the Project Manager in order to provide feedback with regards to all environmental matters present on-site. Contractors working on relevant projects are answerable to the appointed ECO for any non-compliance and have the responsibility to implement any mitigation measures specified in the EA or EMPr. The ECO should be qualified and competent within the field of environmental management, while the most important requirement remains the independency of the representative ECO.
ECO’s are required to monitor and report on compliance with regards to the approved EA and Environmental Management Programme.

Other duties of the ECO comprise of, but not limited to:

  • Conduct site visits and inspections;
  • Compliance monitoring;
  • Ensure legal compliance;
  • Ensure environmental training is conducted;
  • Liaise with the Client and Competent Authority; and
  • Provide overall environmental support.
The work of the ECO ultimately results in the compilation of audit reports (weekly, monthly or quarterly) which are subsequently submitted to the Client and Competent Authority. The audit reports focus on the status of compliance, with regards to the conditions set out by the EA and EMPr, as well as providing recommendations to improve overall environmental compliance on-site, assisting the Client in implementing Chapter 5 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998).

The ECO provides an essential service which can otherwise prove to be costly for the client. However, an external ECO can be contracted to conduct the required work at a minimal cost. Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) offers a wide range of compliance auditing services, which can be utilised on your next project.

If you may require a proposal for compliance auditing please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified and experienced specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or info@envass.co.za

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