1 600 environment clearance applications made in 2022

Ministry inspected 80 sites last year
The environment ministry has submitted a proposal to Cabinet to ban single-use plastic carrier bags this year as a measure to reduce litter and environmental degradation.
Ellanie Smit
A total of 1 600 applications for environmental clearance certificates (ECCs) were received in 2022 and more than 75% of those were approved and issued.

According to environment minister Pohamba Shifeta, these were especially for activities related to hazardous substances, infrastructure development, land rezoning, and mining. He said that the ministry was also able to inspect 80 sites for environmental compliance and monitoring last year.

Work underway

Shifeta added that illegal sand mining remains a challenge, and the ministry is working closely with traditional authorities and the police to better regulate the ever-increasing sand mining activities. He said that the ministry has also developed draft regulations specific to sand mining in terms of the Environmental Management Act (EMA) to improve coordination and regulation of this sector.

In terms of solid waste management, Shifeta said the ministry is working with various stakeholders on waste disposal standards and guidelines. “We are currently in consultation with the Namibian Standards Institution to adopt the South African minimum requirements for waste disposal at landfills.”

Furthermore, the ministry has submitted a proposal to Cabinet to ban single-use plastic carrier bags this year as a measure to reduce litter and environmental degradation. “To ensure the sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of the environment in particular, the EMA is of key importance,” said Shifeta

Refining laws

He said that in terms of the EMA, all development-related activities that may have adverse impacts on the environment must have environmental clearance. He said that since 2017, the ministry has been working on the review of the Act. “The Environmental Management Amendment Draft Bill has been finalised after a thorough consultative process concluded in October 2020.”

Parts proposed for insertion include, among others, the declaration of environmental standards, strengthened measures to prevent pollution, procedures with regard to the application of strategic environmental assessments, and strengthened provisions with regard to waste management. “The amendment bill also makes provisions to ensure that environmental assessment practitioners are registered and meet a certain standard,” said Shifeta.

Resource management

He furthermore said that, through the amendment bill, the ministry plans to increase the validity of ECCs from three to five years. “The ministry is in the process to submit the amendment bill to the Cabinet committee on legislation. It is our hope that the bill we be submitted further to parliament for approval this year.”

Shifeta added that the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) legislation has also now come into force, and this will greatly strengthen their efforts to ensure greater research and product development from our indigenous plants and other genetic resources and the beneficiation of our local communities. The ABS office was established and is in full operation.