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Specialist Fields

Environmental Law

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We assist businesses in all areas of Environmental Law

Environmental Law encompasses laws and regulations concerned with conserving nature and ensuring that human activities do not cause unacceptable harm to the environment. It includes legislation regulating waste, pollution, climate change, land use and development, water, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, protected areas and species, alien and invasive species, and aspects of mining.

Our specialist team advises on the full range of environmental law, including environmental risk in the context of commercial transactions (e.g. due diligence investigations when purchasing land, businesses or shares); compliance with environmental legislation, environmental impact assessment processes, appeals and reviews of government decision-making, and associated litigation strategies.

Environmental justice embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

- Robyn Bandey, Caveat Panel Member

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Environmental Law Regulations

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (“Constitution”) is the all-encompassing statute. Section 24 of the Constitution sets out the right to an environment that is not harmful to health or wellbeing, and calls on the government to take legislative and other actions to:

  • prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
  • promote conservation;
  • secure ecologically sustainable development; and
  • use natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

To this end, a number of key pieces of legislation (and regulated regulations) have been enacted, including the:

  • Hazardous Substances Act, 1989;
  • Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA);
  • National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA);
  • National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (NEM:AQA);
  • National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEM:BA);
  • National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (NEM:PAA);
  • National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (NEM:WA); and
  • National Water Act, 1998 (NWA).

NEMA plays a crucial role in providing for co-operative environmental governance by:

  • establishing principles for decision-making on matters affecting the environment;
  • establishing institutions that will promote co-operative governance and procedures for co-ordinating environmental functions exercised by organs of state; and
  • providing for any matter connected with the above bullet points;

Key environmental regulatory authorities include the:

  • Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA);
  • Department of Mineral Resources (DMR); and
  • Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

All spheres of government and all organs of state must co-operate, consult and support one another on matters involving or affecting the environment.

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