The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has made environmental licences available to the public automatically, without requiring the submission of a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The permits listed in the DEA’s new notice published under s15 of PAIA include environmental authorisations, waste management licences, atmospheric emission licences, and biodiversity permits.
Environmental enforcement in South Africa has to a large extent been led by environmental non-profit organisations (NPOs). Previously, obtaining licenses from the DEA was a lengthy process, with the DEA not adhering to the time frames for providing documents. With licenses now being made available automatically, NPOs are far better placed to monitor and encourage enforcement proceedings against environmental law transgressors.