SCOPING AND EIA

  1. What activities are subject to Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment?
  2. What is the first document to be submitted to the Competent Authority during the Scoping and EIA process?
  3. What reports will the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant have to submit to the Competent Authority?
  4. Where and when do I submit my comments on the reports?
  5. What is the difference between the Scoping Report and the final EIA Report?
  6. The Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant did not include my comments in the report to the Competent Authority. What do I do?
  7. The Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant submitted the report to the Competent Authority without giving me a chance to comment on it - what do I do?
  8. The report I commented on differs substantially from the report submitted to the Competent Authority. What can I do?
  9. The EIA produced by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant is inadequate and lacks any real analysis but the Competent Authority has approved the development. What do I do?
  10. What information must be included in the Scoping Report?
  11. What is a specialist report and when will such a report be required?
  12. A specialist report was done. What should I look for in the specialist report?
  13. I have information that there is a red data species present on the proposed site, yet in the specialist report this information is omitted, what can I do?
  14. What criteria does the Competent Authority take into account when deciding whether to approve or deny an Application (whether it is for an activity listed in Listing 1 or Listing 2)?
  15. What does it mean to say that something has a significant impact?
  16. What does it mean to say that something has cumulative impact?
  17. Does the assessment have to take into account both direct and indirect effects? What is the difference?
  18. What does mitigation consist of?
  19. What information must an Environmental Impact (EIA) Report contain?
  20. What is the Draft Management Plan?
  21. Will I get a copy of the Environmental Authorisation? How and when?
  22. I am not a registered Interested and Affected Party. How can I get a copy of the Environmental Authorisation?
  23. The Competent Authority has issued the Environmental Authorisation and the development is underway but I have new information that was not considered in the process. Can I contact the Competent Authority to have the development stopped?

What activities are subject to Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment?

Activities requiring the more thorough Scoping and an EIA process are listed in Listing 2.

Q: What is the first document to be submitted to the Competent Authority during the Scoping and EIA process?

An Application form together with a declaration of interest by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant on a form provided by the Competent Authority and the prescribed Application fee, if any. Should the Applicant/Developer however not be the owner of the property on which the proposed activity is to be undertaken, the written consent of the owner must also be attached. In the case of a linear activity written proof of notification of all landowners through which the linear activity is proposed to be undertaken, must also be attached.

Q: What reports will the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant have to submit to the Competent Authority?

A Scoping Report and Plan of Study for EIA, upon the Competent Authority's approval of the Scoping Report, including the Plan of Study, the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant will submit an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (including a draft Environmental Management Plan and any specialist reports).

Q: Where and when do I submit my comments on the reports?

A registered Interested and Affected Party is entitled to comment on all written submissions submitted to the Competent Authority by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant. Submit your comments, in writing, to the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant. Comments must be submitted within the time frame approved by the Competent Authority or any extension of time agreed to by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant. Alternatively, you can submit your comments directly to the Competent Authority. When submitting your comments directly to the Competent Authority you have to serve a copy thereof on the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant. Any written comments by a registeredInterested and Affected Party received by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant, within the timeframe, must accompany the report when it is submitted to the Competent Authority.

Always remember to keep a record of your questions/objections and correspondence to the Competent Authority and/or Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant.

Q: What is the difference between the Scoping report and the final EIA report?

The Scoping Report describes the proposed project and identifies the possible impacts of the proposed development. In addition, the Scoping report must contain a description of the methodology that will be used to assess the potential impacts and any specialist reports that will be necessary, this is called the plan of study for EIA and have to be submitted together with the Scoping report. However, the Scoping report does not include a detailed assessment of the impact of the project on the environment.

The final EIA Report is the comprehensive examination of the issues and impacts identified in the Scoping report. The EIA Report must also contain and Environmental Management Plan that sets forth the Applicant/Developer's proposals for managing the environmental impacts of the project from the planning and design stage through construction and operation to decommissioning. The Plan must contain a detailed description of the activities covered by the Plan and the persons responsible for the implementation of the Plan.

Q: The Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant did not include my comments in the report to the Competent Authority. What do I do?

It is the responsibility of the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant managing the Application to ensure that the comments of the Interested and Affected Party are recorded in the reports submitted to the Competent Authority. Contact the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant and ask that it correct the report. Alternatively, you may submit your comments directly to the Competent Authority as soon as possible, informing the Competent Authority that you are a registered Interested and Affected Party and that the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant failed to include your comments. 

Always remember to keep a record of your questions/objections and correspondence to the Competent Authority and/or Consultant.

Q: The Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant submitted the report to the Competent Authority without giving me a chance to comment on it - what do I do?

Inform the Competent Authority as soon as possible, in writing, that you were not given an opportunity to comment although you are an Interested and Affected Party. You can submit your comments directly to the Competent Authority.

If you are not registered as an Interested and Affected Party, you should ask the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant to add your name to the registry although once the EIA report has been submitted there may be little else to comment on, depending on how the process proceeds. You may contact the Competent Authority to request an opportunity to provide late comments on the report, but the Competent Authority has discretion whether or not to grant your request.

Always remember to keep a record of your questions/objections and correspondence to the Competent Authority and/or Consultant.

Q: The report I commented on differs substantially from the report submitted to the Competent Authority. What can I do?

As a registered Interested and Affected Party you are entitled to comment on the report that is submitted to the Competent Authority. Contact the Competent Authority as soon as possible, in writing, with the details of the situation. Ask the Competent Authority for additional time to submit comments on the new report.

Always remember to keep a record of your questions/objections and correspondence to the Competent Authority and/or Consultant.

Q: The EIA produced by the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant is inadequate and lacks any real analysis but theCompetent Authority has approved the development. What do I do?

First ask the Competent Authority to reconsider its approval. You will need to submit a written explanation of the problems with the EIA. If the Competent Authority does not reconsider its approval, you can Appeal the decision. Please note that there are time limits on filing an Appeal, so you will have to act quickly.

Q: What information must be included in the Scoping Report?

The Scoping Report must contain all the information necessary for the Competent Authority to consider the Application and make a decision. The Scoping Report must include:
  1. details of the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant who prepared the report and the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant's skills to carry out the Scoping procedures;
  2. A description of the proposed activity and of any feasible and reasonable alternatives that have been identified;
  3. A description of the property on which the activity is to be undertaken and the location of the property, or if it is a linear activity, a description of the route of the activity, or if it is an ocean-based activity, the coordinates of the activity;
  4. A description of the environment that may be affected by the proposed activity and the manner in which the geographical, physical, biological, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the environment may be affected by the activity;
  5. Identification of all legislation and policy guidelines that have been considered in the preparation of the Scoping Report;
  6. A description of environmental issues and potential impacts, including cumulative impacts;
  7. Information on the methodology that will be adopted in assessing the potential impacts that have been identified, including any specialist studies or specialised processes that will be undertaken;
  8. Details of the public participation process undertaken, including the steps that were taken to notify potentially interested and affected parties of the proposed activity, proof that notice boards, advertisements and notices notifying potentially interested parties were displayed; a list of all persons, organizations, and state organs that were registered as Interested and Affected Parties; a summary of all issues raised by Interested and Affected Parties, the date on which comments were received and the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant's response to comments.
  9. A Plan of Study for Environmental Impact Assessment which sets out the proposed approach to the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Application, which must include:
    1. a description of the tasks to be undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, including any specialist reports or specialised processes, and the manner in which such tasks will be undertaken.
    2. An indication of the stages at which the Competent Authority will be consulted;
    3. a description of the proposed method of assessing the environmental issues and alternatives, including the no-go option;
    4. particulars of the public participation process that will be conducted during the Environmental Impact Assessment process.
  10. Any specific information required by the Competent Authority.

Q: What is a specialist report and when will such a report be required?

A specialist report is a study of a particular aspect of the proposal and may be used either to identify issues during Scoping or to respond to issues identified.

Specialist studies are often commissioned on issues such as vegetation, vertebrates, wetlands, biodiversity, fresh water systems, and marine systems, among other things. If you feel that due to the nature of the activity and / or the sensitivity of the area a specialist study is required on a certain aspect, you should suggest this during the Scoping phase. Specialists should have formal training in their field of expertise and should not have any financial or other interest in the project.

Q: A specialist report was done. What should I look for in the specialist report?

Examine the specialist's qualifications to ensure that the specialist is qualified. Also look to see if the specialist has identified any issues of concern and then ask the Applicant/Developer to respond to those concerns.

Q: I have information that there is a red data species present on the proposed site, yet in the specialist report this information is omitted, what can I do?

There are several NGOs, such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust, TRAFFIC, or WESSA that will have information about red data species. Contact an NGO for information. You may also contact the Competent Authority or the Environmental Assessment Practitioner. Be sure however to keep a record of your correspondence.

Q: What criteria does the Competent Authority take into account when deciding whether to approve or deny an Application (whether it is for an activity listed in Listing 1 or Listing 2)?

When considering an Application, the Competent Authority must:
  1. Ensure that it complies with the Act, Regulations, and all applicable legislation;
  2. Take into account relevant factors, including:
    1. any pollution, environmental impacts or environmental degradation likely to be caused if the Application is approved or refused;
    2. the impact of the environment of the activity and associated operations;
    3. measures that can be taken to protect the environment from harm and to prevent or mitigate any pollution or other environmental impacts;
    4. the ability of the Applicant/Developer to implement mitigation measures and to comply with any conditions imposed on the project;
    5. any feasible and reasonable modifications to the activity that may minimise environmental harm;
    6. any information or maps compiled pursuant to NEMA, including any environmental management frameworks relevant to the Application;
    7. information contained in the Application form, reports, comments, and other documents submitted to the Competent Authority;
    8. any comments from state organs with jurisdiction over any aspect of the activity; and
    9. relevant national and provincial policies.

Q: What does it mean to say that something has a significant impact?

The EIA Regulations define a significant impact as an impact that by its magnitude, duration, intensity or probability of occurrence may have a notable effect on one or more aspects of the environment.

An example of a significant impact might be the destruction of a wetland from which rivers provide water for settlements downstream, effectively removing the supply of clean, safe water.

Q: What does it mean to say that something has cumulative impact?

A cumulative impact is the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. In relation to an activity, it means the impact of an activity that in itself may not be significant may become significant when added to the existing and potential impacts resulting from similar or diverse activities or undertakings in the area.

An example of a cumulative impact might be the effect of housing development on grasslands: one house may in itself have minor effects (on e.g. groundwater replacement), but together with other housing developments in the same area, the impact of these effects increases – in this case the amount of water extraction may exceed groundwater replacement.

Q: Does the assessment have to take into account both direct and indirect effects? What is the difference?

Yes, both must be taken into account. The EIA Regulations do not specifically state that both direct and indirect effects must be considered. Indirect impacts are part of the environmental impacts and, therefore, must be considered if reasonably foreseeable.

Direct effects, are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place.

Indirect effects, are caused by the action and are later in time or further removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other natural systems, including ecosystems.

Q: What does mitigation consist of?

Mitigation includes:
  1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action.
  2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation.
  3. Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment.
  4. Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action.
  5. Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

Q: What information must an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report contain?

The EIA Report must include:
  1. Details of the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant who prepared the report and the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant's skills to carry out the Scoping procedures;
  2. A description of the proposed activity;
  3. A description of the property on which the activity is to be undertaken and the location of the property, or if it is a linear activity, a description of the route of the activity, or if it is an ocean-based activity, the coordinates of the activity;
  4. A description of the environment that may be affected by the proposed activity and the manner in which the geographical, physical, biological, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the environment may be affected by the activity;
  5. Identification of all legislation and policy guidelines that have been considered in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report;
  6. Details of the public participation process undertaken, including the steps that were taken to notify potentially interested and affected parties of the proposed activity, proof that notice boards, advertisements and notices notifying potentially interested parties were displayed; a list of all persons, organizations, and state organs that were registered as Interested and Affected Party; a summary of all issues raised by Interested and Affected Parties, the date on which comments were received and the Environmental Assessment Practitioner/Consultant's response to comments;
  7. Description of the need and desirability of the proposed activity and any identified, feasible, reasonable alternatives to the proposed activity, including advantages and disadvantages that the proposed activity and alternatives will have on the environment and on the community;
  8. A description of the methodology used in determining the significance of the potential environmental impacts;
  9. A description and comparative assessment of all alternatives identified during the Environmental Impact Assessment process;
  10. A summary of the findings and recommendations of any specialist report or report on a specialised process;
  11. Description of all environmental issues that were identified during the Environmental Impact Assessment process, an assessment of the significance of each issue and an indication of the extent to which the issue could be addressed by the adoption of mitigation measures;
  12. An assessment of each identified potentially significant impact, including cumulative impacts, in terms of the nature of the impact; the extent and duration of the impact in terms of spatial size or area of influence; the probability of the impact occurring; the degree to which the impact can be reversed; the degree to which there will be irreplaceable loss of resources; and the degree to which the impact can be mitigated;
  13. A description of any gaps, assumptions, or uncertainties;
  14. An opinion as to whether or not the activity should or should not be authorised and any conditions that should be attached to authorisation;
  15. An Environmental Impact Statement containing a summary of the key findings of the EIA and a comparative assessment of the positive and negative implications of the proposed activity;
  16. A Draft Environmental Management Plan;
  17. Copies of specialist reports; and
  18. Any specific information required by the Competent Authority.

Q: What is the Draft Management Plan?

The Draft Management Plan sets forth the Applicant/Developer's proposals for managing the environmental impacts of the project from the planning and design stage through construction and operation to decommissioning. The Plan must contain a detailed description of the activities covered by the Plan and the persons responsible for the implementation of the Plan.

Q: Will I get a copy of the Environmental Authorisation? How and when?

Once a final decision is made and the Competent Authority has informed the Applicant/Developer of that decision, the Applicant/Developer must provide written notification of the outcome, the reasons for the decision, as well as the fact that an Appeal may be lodged to the decision, to Interested and Affected Parties. The timeframe within which the Applicant/Developer has to provide Interested and Affected Parties with this information will be specified by the Competent Authority in the Environmental Authorisation.

Q: I am not a registered Interested and Affected Party. How can I get a copy of the Environmental Authorisation?

Contact the Competent Authority to request a copy of or access to the Environmental Authorisation. You may also make use of the procedures prescribed in the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2 of 2000.

Q: The Competent Authority has issued the Environmental Authorisation and the development is underway but I have new information that was not considered in the process. Can I contact the Competent Authority to have the development stopped?

It depends on what the new information concerns and how significant it is. The Competent Authority can amend the Environmental Authorisation of its own accord in limited circumstances: (1) to prevent the deterioration or further deterioration of the environment; (2) for the purposes of achieving prescribed environmental standards or (3) to accommodate demands brought about by impacts on socio-economic circumstances. If the new information relates to one of these circumstances, submit any new evidence to the Competent Authority. For example, if an endangered species is newly identified on the property, alteration of theEnvironmental Authorisation may be required to protect that species. Or, if the new information goes to misrepresentations made by the Applicant/Developer in the process, the Competent Authority can also withdraw or amend the Environmental Authorisation.