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Minister Molewa welcomes Sasol legal decision

Minister Molewa welcomes Sasol legal decision

Apr 27, 2015

28 April 2015 ~ The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has welcomed the decision by Sasol to withdraw legal action against herself and the National Air Quality Officer in the High Court of South Africa.

The court action was an attempt by Sasol to review and set aside pollution emission standards which are legislated in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (39) of 2004.

The withdrawal of litigation by Sasol Synfuels, Natref and Sasol Infrachem follows the filing of the Minister’s responding affidavit in December 2014, where she defended the regulations promulgated in the Government Gazette (GN893) of 22 November 2013. During this time, the National Air Quality Officer also stated that the control of industrial emissions is towards protecting the people of South Africa to ensure that their rights to a safe environment are realised.

The Department plays a key role in ensuring that the Constitutional right of South Africans to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being is always taken into consideration, while ensuring that socio-economic growth is not hampered. One of the objectives of the Air Quality Act is to ensure ecologically sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

On another hand, Sasol had applied for postponements of time frames for compliance with the Minimum Emission Standards in terms of section 21 of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act 39 of 2004, which can only be granted for a period not exceeding five years.  The Department had received 37 applications for postponements from other industries as well, including Engen, Shell, Eskom and Anglo American Platinum.

The allowance for postponement applications in the regulations provides transitional arrangements for industries that were in existence in 2010, when the regulations were first promulgated, to take the necessary action and make the required investments towards compliance with the minimum emission standards. Decisions on postponement applications were communicated on 24 February 2015.

“No decision to grant a postponement is reached lightly, but reached upon careful consideration of all variables: we remain mindful of the need to balance environmental protection with economic development,” says Minister Molewa.

Since 1994 South has put in place progressive environmental legislation which advances the promotion and integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely, economic, social and environmental dimensions.

In the past 21 years, the Government has facilitated a dramatic and sustained process of forming environmental guiding principles, institution-building and restructuring, legislation and policy development that recognises the intricate linkages between socio-economic developments and environmental stewardship.

The environmental sector has become a significant contributor to economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation.

The Department is committed to the principle of sustainable development that recognises the interdependency between economic growth, social equity and environmental integrity.

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs South Africa

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