On 11 November 2011, the Department of Environmental Affairs published a General Notice ("GN 784") stating the intention of the Minister of Environmental Affairs ("Minister") to prescribe a fee structure for applications for environmental authorisations ("EA") in terms of the National Environmental Management, 107 of 1998 ("NEMA") and waste management licences ("WML") in terms of the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 59 OF 2008 ("NEMWA").
GNR 784 was published in terms of, inter alia, section 24(5)(c) of NEMA which gives the Minister the authority to prescribe fees for, inter alia, the consideration and processing of applications for EAs as well as section 45(2)(a) of NEMWA which provides that an application for a WML must be accompanied by the prescribed processing fee.
The proposed fee structure is not applicable to all applications and matters related to environmental authorisations as GNR 784 excludes the following:
- An application for rectification of the unlawful commencement of an activity in terms of s24G of NEMA.
- An application for an exemption from certain environmental authorisations or environmental management plans or programmes.
- An application where the applicant is an organ of state.
The fee structure pertains to a non-refundable fee that will be payable by an applicant to the competent authority for consideration and processing of an application for either an EA or WML. GNR 784 makes it clear that the prescribed fees will be charged per EA for which application is made and not for each listed activity triggered.
A distinction is made between applications which require a basic assessment and those which require Scoping and an Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") Report. Where a basic assessment is required, a flat rate of R2 000 is proposed for the consideration and processing of the application, but in the case of an application for which scoping and EIA Report is required, a flat rate of R10 000 is proposed.
Where an application is submitted for different listed activities, but for the same project, in terms of both NEMA and NEMWA, GN 784 proposes the payment of fees on a sliding scale as follows:
- For the main application, a fee of R10 000 (being 100% of the flat rate) will be payable for the most expensive application if the Scoping and EIA Report is triggered, but if the basic assessment is triggered a fee of R2 000 (being 100% of the flat rate) will be payable.
- In the case of the second application, 50% of the most expensive application will be payable, thus R5 000 will be payable if the Scoping and EIA Report is triggered, or R1 000 if the basic assessment is triggered.
- In the case of the third application, 25% of the most expensive application is proposed, thus R2 500 will be payable if the Scoping and EIA Report is triggered or R250 if the basic assessment is triggered.
- No fee will be payable for the fourth and subsequent applications, as GN 784 prescribes a rate of 0%.
GNR 784 makes provision for an applicant for an EA to apply for exemption from the prescribed application fee in terms of section 24M of NEMA or Chapter 5 of the EIA Regulations of 2010. An applicant for a WML may apply for an exemption in terms of section 74 of NEMWA.
It is intended that the proposed fee structure be implemented on 1 April 2012 and the public have opportunity to submit comments and inputs on the draft fee structure to the Department of Environmental Affairs within a period of 60 days from the date of publication of the Notice. GNR 784 provides that any comments received after the closing date may not be considered.
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