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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

1. Definitions

 

(1) In this Act, unless the context requires otherwise—

 

"activities"

when used in Chapter 5, means policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects identified in terms of section 24(2)(a) and (b);

[Definition amended by section 1(a) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"Agenda 21"

means the document by that name adopted at the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992;

 

"aircraft"

means an airborne craft of any type whatsoever, whether self-propelled or not, and includes a hovercraft;

 

"applicant"

means a person who has submitted an application for an environmental authorisation to the competent authority and has paid the prescribed fee;

[Definition amended by section 1(a) of Act No. 25 of 2014]

 

"assessment"

when used in Chapter 5, means the process of collecting, organising, analyzing, interpreting and  communicating information that is relevant to decision-making;

 

"best practicable environmental option"

means the option that provides the most benefit or causes the least damage to the environment as a whole, at a cost acceptable to society, in the long term as well as in the short term;

 

"commence"

when used in Chapter 5, means the start of any physical implementation in furtherance of a listed activity or specified activity, including site preparation and any other action on the site or the physical implementation of a plan, policy, programme or process, but does not include any action required for the purposes of an investigation or feasibility study as long as such investigation or feasibility study does not constitute a listed activity or specified activity;

[Definition amended by section 1(b) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"commercially confidential information"

means commercial information, the disclosure of which would prejudice to an unreasonable degree the commercial interests of the holder: Provided that details of emission levels and waste products must not be considered to be commercially confidential notwithstanding any provision of this Act or any other law;

 

"Committee"

[Definition deleted by the National Environmental Laws Amendment Act, 2009 (Act No. 14 of 2009)];

 

"community"

[Definition deleted by section 1(b) of Act No. 25 of 2014]

 

"competent authority"

in respect of a listed activity or specified activity, means the organ of state charged by this Act with evaluating the environmental impact of that activity and, where appropriate, with granting or refusing an environmental authorisation in respect of that activity;

 

"Constitution"

means the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996);

 

"delegation"

in relation to a duty, includes an instruction to perform the duty;

 

"Department"

means the Department responsible for environmental affairs;

[Definition amended by section 1(c) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"development footprint"

in respect of land, means any evidence of its physical transformation as a result of the undertaking of any activity;

 

"Director-General"

means the Director-General of the Department;

[Definition amended by section 1(d) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"ecosystem"

means a dynamic system of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living, environment interacting as a functional unit;

 

"environment"

means the surroundings within which humans exist and that are made up of—

(i) the land, water and atmosphere of the earth;
(ii) micro-organisms, plant and animal life;
(iii) any part or combination of (i) and (ii) and the interrelationships among and between them; and
(iv) the physical, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties and conditions of the foregoing that influence human health and well-being;

 

"environmental assessment practitioner"

when used in Chapter 5, means the individual responsible for the planning, management, co-ordination or review of environmental impact assessments, strategic environmental assessments, environmental management programmes or any other appropriate environmental instruments introduced through regulations;

[Definition amended by section 1(e) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"environmental authorisation"

when used in Chapter 5, means the authorisation by a competent authority of a listed activity or specified activity in terms of this Act, and includes a similar authorisation contemplated in a specific environmental management Act;

 

"environmental implementation plan"

means an implementation plan referred to in section 11;

 

"environmental management co-operation agreement"

means an agreement referred to in section 35(1);

 

"environmental management inspector"

means a person designated as an environmental management inspector in  terms of section 31B, 31BA or 31C;

[Definition amended by section 1(c) of Act No. 25 of 2014]

 

"environmental management plan"

means a management plan referred to in section 11;

 

"environmental management programme"

means a programme required in terms of section 24;

 

"environmental mineral resource inspector"

means a person designated as an environmental mineral resource inspector in terms of section 31BB;

[Definition inserted by section 1(d) of Act No. 25 of 2014]

 

"evaluation"

when used in Chapter 5, means the process of ascertaining the relative importance or significance of information, in the light of people’s values, preferences and judgments, in order to make a decision;

 

"exploration area"

[Definition deleted by section 1(e) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"financial provision"

means the insurance, bank guarantee, trust fund or cash that applicants for an environmental authorisation must provide in terms of this Act guaranteeing the availability of sufficient funds to undertake the—

(a) rehabilitation of the adverse environmental impacts of the listed or specified activities;
(b) rehabilitation of the impacts of the prospecting, exploration, mining or production activities, including the pumping and treatment of polluted or extraneous water;
(c) decommissioning and closure of the operations;
(d) remediation of latent or residual environmental impacts which become known in the future;
(e) removal of building structures and other objects; or
(f) remediation of any other negative environmental impacts;

[Definition inserted by section 1(f) of Act No. 25 of 2014]

 

"financial year"

means a period commencing on 1 April of any year and ending on 31 March of the following year;

 

"Forum"

[Definition deleted by the National Environmental Laws Amendment Act, 2009 (Act No. 14 of 2009)];

 

"hazard"

means a source of or exposure to danger;

 

"holder"

has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002;

 

"holder of an old order right"

has the meaning assigned to 'holder' in item 1 of Schedule II to the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002;

 

"integrated environmental authorisation"

means an authorisation granted in terms of section 24L;

 

"interested and affected party"

for the purposes of Chapter 5 and in relation to the assessment of the environmental impact of a listed activity or related activity, means an interested and affected party contemplated in section 24(4)(a)(v), and which includes—

(a) any person, group of persons or organisation interested in or affected by such operation or activity; and
(b) any organ of state that may have jurisdiction over any aspect of the operation or activity;

 

"international environmental instrument"

means any international agreement, declaration, resolution, convention or protocol which relates to the management of the environment;

 

"listed activity"

when used in Chapter 5, means an activity identified in terms of section 24(2)(a) and (d);

 

"listed area"

when used in Chapter 5, means a geographical area identified in terms of section 24(2)(b) and (c);

 

"MEC"

means the Member of the Executive Council to whom the Premier has assigned responsibility for environmental affairs;

 

"mine"

has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002;

 

"Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002"

means the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002);

 

"mining area"

[Definition deleted by section 1(g) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"Minister"

means the Minister responsible for environmental matters;

[Definition amended by section 1(h) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"Minister responsible for mineral resources"

[Definition deleted by section 1(i) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"national department"

means a department of State within the national sphere of government;

 

"norms or standards"

when used in Chapter 5, means any norm or standard contemplated in section 24(10);

 

"organ of state"

means organ of state as defined in the Constitution;

 

"owner of works"

has the meaning contemplated in paragraph (b) of the definition of "owner" in section 102 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act No. 29 of 1996);

 

"person"

includes a juristic person;

 

"pollution"

means any change in the environment caused by—

(i) substances;
(ii) radioactive or other waves; or
(iii) noise, odours, dust or heat,

emitted from any activity, including the storage or treatment of waste or substances, construction and the provision of services, whether engaged in by any person or an organ of state, where that change has an adverse effect on human health or well-being or on the composition, resilience and productivity of natural or managed  ecosystems, or on materials useful to people, or will have such an effect in the future;

 

"prescribe"

means prescribe by regulation in the Gazette;

 

"production area"

[Definition deleted by section 1(j) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"prospecting area"

[Definition deleted by section 1(j) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"provincial head of department"

means the head of the provincial department responsible for environmental affairs;

 

"public participation process"

in relation to the assessment of the environmental impact of any application for an environmental authorisation, means a process by which potential interested and affected parties are given opportunity to comment on, or raise issues relevant to, the application;

 

"Regional Mining Development and Environmental Committee"

[Definition deleted by section 1(j) of Act No. 25 of 2014];

 

"Regulation"

means a regulation made under this Act;

 

"residue deposit"

has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002;

 

"residue stockpile"

has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002;

 

"review"

when used in Chapter 5, means the process of determining whether an assessment has been carried out correctly or whether the resulting information is adequate in order to make a decision;

 

"spatial development tool"

when used in Chapter 5, means a spatial description of environmental attributes, developmental activities and developmental patterns and their relation to each other;

 

"specific environmental management Act"

means—

(a) the Environment Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989);
(b) the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998);
(c) the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003);
(d) the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004);
(e) the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004);
(f) the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008);
(g) the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008); or
(h) the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 (Act No. 49 of 1999),

and includes any regulation or other subordinate legislation made in terms of any of those Acts;

[Definition amended by section 1(f) of Act No. 30 of 2013]

 

"specified activity"

when used in Chapter 5, means an activity as specified within a listed geographical area in terms of section 24(2)(b) and (c);

 

"specific environmental management Acts"

[Definition deleted by the National Environment Laws Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 44 of 2008)]

 

"state land"

means land which vests in the national or a provincial government, and includes land below the high water mark and the Admiralty Reserve, but excludes land belonging to a local authority;

 

"sustainable development"

means the integration of social, economic and environmental factors into planning, implementation and decision-making so as to ensure that development serves present and future generations;

 

"this Act"

includes the schedules, and regulations and any notice issued under the Act.

 

"vessel"

means any waterborne craft of any kind, whether self-propelled or not, but does not include any moored floating structure that is not used as a means of transporting anything by water;

 

(2) Words derived from the word or terms defined have corresponding meanings, unless the context indicates otherwise.

 

(3) A reasonable interpretation of a provision which is consistent with the purpose of this Act must be preferred over an alternative interpretation which is not consistent with the purpose of this Act.

 

(4) Neither—
(a) a reference to a duty to consult specific persons or authorities, nor
(b) the absence of any reference in this Act to a duty to consult or give a hearing, exempts the official or authority exercising a power or performing a function from the duty to act fairly.

 

(5) Any administrative process conducted or decision taken in terms of this Act must be conducted or taken in accordance with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000), unless otherwise provided for in this Act.