New Air Quality Act comes into full effect on 1 April 2010
31 March 2010
1 April 2010 heralds a significant milestone for air quality management in South Africa, when the new National Air Quality Act comes into full effect and the old Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (APPA) of 1965 is repealed.
“What this means for South Africans is that we now have a piece of air quality management legislation fully in place that is comparable to international best practice and that is specifically outcomes ‘driven’,” said Albi Modise, Spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The ultimate outcome of the efficient and effective implementation of the Air Quality Act is of course ambient air that is not harmful to health and well being of all across the nation.
To this end, on 24 December 2009, the overall measure of this outcome was published, namely, revised Ambient Air Quality Standards in respect of the most significant pollutants air quality standards that we, as South Africans, regard as defining ambient air that is not harmful to health and well being.
Since 1965, air quality management in South Africa was informed and regulated by APPA. The APPA, since 1996, has been regarded as being outdated and unconstitutional. APPA amongst others did not accommodate the constitutional allocation of functions in respect of the role of provincial and local government; it did not have adequate compliance and enforcement mechanisms to implement the Act; it lacked transparency in the decision making process; and the air quality management approach was largely based on point-source emission control that did not fully address the cumulative impacts of air pollution.
Consequently, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) (the Act) was promulgated to give effect to section 24(b) of the Constitution in order to enhance the quality of ambient air for the sake of securing an environment that is not harmful to the health and well being of people. The NEM: AQA was assented to by the president on 19 February 2005, and most of the sections came into operation on 11 September 2005. Sections 21, 22, 36 to 49, 51(1)(e),
51(1)(f), 51(3), 60 and 61 of the Act came into operation on 1 April 2010.
These sections relate mainly to the atmospheric emissions licensing provisions.
The Act also requires the minister or MEC to identify and publish activities which result in atmospheric emissions that requires an atmospheric emission licence before they can operate. 1 April 2010 also marks the date when the new list of activities requiring Atmospheric Emissions Licenses to operate will be promulgated and, with this, the levelling of the atmospheric emission “playing field” through the setting of minimum emissions standards for all these listed activities.
Access to air quality information was recently boosted with the launch of the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) on World Meteorological Day.
SAAQIS is a web based interactive system that provides South Africans with information on the quality of the ambient air that they breathe. SAAQIS already has over 40 monitoring stations reporting to it across the country including full coverage of the national priority areas.
To access the new air quality act click on http://www.environment.gov.za//PolLe... ACT, 2004.doc.
To access the revised Ambient Air Quality Standards click on http://www.environment.gov.za//PolLe... STANDARDS.pdf.
To access the new list of activities requiring Atmospheric Emissions Licences click on http://www.environment.gov.za//PolLe...ACTIVITIES.pdf.
For general air quality information and updates visit http://www.saaqis.org.za.