The various statutory processes that must be undertaken in order for the Generation School to obtain the requisite rights to be developed:
National Environmental Management Act (NEMA):
The proposed Noordhoek Generation School requires Environmental Authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (2014).
It also requires that the land is rezoned for educational purposes in terms of the Cape Town Municipal Planning By-law (2015) which is known as the land use application.
Both these applications include Public Participation Processes (PPPs).
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA):
The current PPP is being conducted as part of the EIA process and is the “Basic Assessment process”.
Its purpose is to identify environmental issues and concerns associated with the proposed development so that these can be addressed in the development’s design and planning. It does not call for “objections” in the same sense that the land use application does. Note that the land use application will be initiated in due course and will be advertised separately from the EIA application in accordance with its own regulatory requirements. (Further details of the legal requirements of the proposed development are presented in Section 10 (page 22) of the Draft Basic Assessment Report).
Because the public is required to comment on the development proposal in the EIA process there is onus on the public to appraise themselves with the proposed development. This is achieved through reviewing the documentation that makes up the Draft Basic Assessment Report (i.e. the report and its appendices).
These documents are available on KHULA’s website (www.khulaec.co.za/projects/) and most of the reports have executive summaries so these can be read without requiring too much time.
In the case of the proposed Noordhoek Generation school application the following specialist studies were conducted to address the projects key potential environmental impacts (i.e. wetland impacts, toad impacts and traffic impacts):
- Wetland Specialist Study;
- Fauna Specialist Study (with a focus on Western Leopard Toads);
- Transport Impact Study.
Aspects requiring special attention:
These studies are presented in three separate specialist reports (Appendix G1, G2 and G4 respectively of the Draft Basic Assessment Report). The wetland and faunal specialists, when undertaking their studies, became aware that a number of design and operational aspects would require special attention and have therefore collaborated with the Landscape Architect to prepare a Wetland Rehabilitation and Toad Management Plan (WR&TMP, see Appendix G3).
Another important ‘environmental plan’ similar to the WR&TMP is the EMPr (Appendix H). This document provides environmental management specifications for the contractor during the construction phase and also presents an environmental management system for the operational phase of the proposed school.
Part of this system is the requirement for independent environmental audits to be carried in the operational phase to ensure that the operational phase requirements (including those specified in the WR&TMP) are being implemented by the school.
The other appendices to the Draft Basic Assessment Report include plans, 3D impressions, Engineering reports and also a document explaining the process to generate the alternatives that are being assessed in the Basic Assessment process (Appendix I).
Regarding the alternatives, it is important for the public to understand that these are not development “options” which are available for the public to choose from.
Alternatives are assessed in an EIA process in accordance with the regulatory requirement in order that the merits of various scenarios can be examined by the various specialists so that a full picture of the pros and cons of these scenarios can inform decision-making.
If two development alternatives are generally found to be ‘acceptable’ in terms of their impacts on the natural environment then issues like social and economic benefit can become overriding factors in determining best practical environmental option for the site.
Commenting on the Draft EIA:
Going forward, upon closure of the comment period on 17 July 2017, all written comment received will be recorded in a Comments & Responses Report.
A synthesis of the comment will be presented where key issues being raised are identified and then responded to by the project team. This process takes a few weeks as in some cases detailed responses are required or re-design is required.
When all the issues which have been raised have responses, then a second Basic Assessment Report (with all the specialist reports and plans etc) as well as the Comments & Responses Report is circulated for public review for another 30 day period.
All registered Interested and Affected Parties will be directly notified of this second round of public participation.
During this round the commenting parties will have an opportunity to review one another’s comment and the project team’s response to the comment and can then issue final comment indicating whether or not they are satisfied with the project team’s response.
After this final comment is received all the documents and the Comments & Responses Report with the final comment attached (note that no response is issued to final comment) is submitted to the competent authority, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) for a decision.
In reaching their decision DEA&DP will scrutinize all the available information, including the comments of the public and the manner in which these have been addressed and will reach a decision.
All Registered Interested and Affected Parties will receive notice of the decision and also will be afforded an opportunity to appeal the decision should they choose to do so.