South Africa has a comprehensive Environmental legislative Framework that set out various requirements in for interacting with the environment. Organisations or entities wanting to or undertaking an activity regulated by this framework need to ensure that they will or do operate within the confines of the law.
One way of determining whether a company is complying with the law is by having an Environmental Legal Compliance audit (ELCA) undertaken. Shortly described as a process of determining the enviro-legal requirements of undertaking a specific activity in a specific area.
In terms of environmental law, certain activities can require specific Environmental Legal Authorisations to be issued to the specific operations where these activities are undertaken. This could range anything from clearing an area of vegetation and building an office block, to being located near a watercourse, abstracting water from a borehole, to temporarily storing waste, storing hazardous materials or fuels, and so forth.
An ELCA will firstly look at what activity is undertaken at operations and whether undertaking the activity has a legal implication as mentioned above. Further will the location where the activity is being undertaken be assessed for possible enviro-legal requirements. The ELCA is undertaken by Environmental Auditors, supported if needed by Legal Practitioners to ensure that all technical and legal bases are considered during the undertaking. The ELCA comprises a site visit to the operations to assess the activities, includes a review of all available documentation and records pertaining to the operations and ends in a specific report for each operations detailing the audit result / possible areas of risk.
The result is a report detailing the findings of the audit which can be used to set up an action plan toward full environmental compliance.