Revised South African Legislation for Renewable Energy

The National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) and its associated Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations of 2014 (as amended) set out the activities which need to be authorised prior to being undertaken. Activities under Listing Notice 1 require a Basic Assessment while those under Listing Notice 2 require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be undertaken. Activities associated with the generation and distribution of energy are considered listed activities.

On 26th February 2021, the following documents were published in the Government Gazette:

  • GN R 142 of 2021: National Environmental Management Act (107/1998): Identification of procedures to be followed when applying for or deciding on an environmental authorization application for large scale wind and solar photovoltaic facilities, when occurring in renewable energy development zones.
  • GN R 143 of 2021: National Environmental Management Act (107/1998): Identification of geographical areas important for the development of strategic gas transmission pipeline infrastructure.
  • GN R 144 of 2021: National Environmental Management Act (107/1998): Identification of geographical areas of strategic importance for  the development of large-scale wind and solar photovoltaic energy facilities.
  • GN R 145 of 2021: National Environmental Management Act (107/1998): Identification of procedures to be followed when applying for or deciding on an environmental authorization application for the development of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure when occurring in renewable energy development zones.

In Summary, additional renewable energy development zones (REDZ) have been gazetted. These are eMalahleni (REDZ 9), Klerksdorp (REDZ 10) and Beaufort West (REDZ 11). In addition, 9 Strategic Gas Pipeline Corridors (SGPC) have been set out.

Where a proposed project falls within the REDZ only a Basic Assessment procedure needs to be undertaken, rather than an EIA, even though that Activity is Activity 1 in Listing Notice 2.

Activities involving the development of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure (including sub-stations) (LN 1 Activity 11 and LN2 Activity 9) within REDZ require a Basic Assessment process. Critically, routes must be negotiated with all landowners and negotiated routes must be submitted as part of the application. This is a change from previous requirements which may be a hinderance and cause delays to permitting processes, whereas before this aspect was not prerequisite for linear activities. This aspect is not in alignment with the rest of the regulations which appear to streamline the authorisation process.

Furthermore, the Generic Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) for the Development and Expansion of Substation Infrastructure for Transmission and Distribution of Electricity and the Generic Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) for the Development and Expansion of Overhead Electricity Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure published as Appendix 1 and 2 under Government Notice No. 435, Government Gazette 42323 of 22 March 2019 are applicable.

Kongiwe has many years expertise in conducting Basic Assessments and EIAs and can readily assist with navigating the legal requirements for your renewable projects.

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