South Africa

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SEA profile

Updated to: 09 October 2013

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SEA background

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Country contact on SEA

Contact details for the country contact on SEA.

Department of Environmental Affairs
Private Bag X447, Pretoria, 0001
South Africa

Country's planning system

Brief description of planning practice, specifically whether it take place more often at centralised or decentralised level, what kind of national level planning and sectoral planning takes place, etc.

Planning is largely decentralised to the 9 provinces, each subdivided into several districts. However, in May 2010 a National Planning Commission was appointed through the president. It is responsible for strategic planning and the development of a long term vision for the country.

http://www.npconline.co.za/

History of SEA

Brief description of the history of SEA in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.

The requirements for SEA in South African law are limited. SEA is not an explicit legisIative requirement, but it is implied in provisions which require environmental assessment for policies, plans and programmes. In practice, this means that SEA application is voluntary. However, SEA and SEA-related tools are promoted in the framework legislation and in the policy. Non-binding guidelines have been drafted for application of SEA at the planning and programme level. The first guidelines were published by DEAT in 2000. These guidelines were produced under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) No 107 of 1998, which anticipated the development of procedures for SEA of policies, plans and programmes, but such procedures do not yet exist. Following the experiences with SEA in subsequent years, DEAT published in 2007 an integrated environmental guideline on SEA to update the 2000 guidelines.
SEA is being practiced on a voluntary basis in two different ways: as integrated studies forming part of the planning and programme design process and as large-scale EIA studies.

Clayton and Sadler, 2005. Strategic Environmental Assessment: A Sourcebook and Reference Guide to International Experience. International Institute for Environment and Development, London, OECD and UNEP in association with Earthscan Publications.

Legal framework for SEA

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Framework/Enabling law

Name of first enabling legislation that sets the framework for SEA.

There are currently no legislative requirements that make SEA mandatory in South Africa. However, the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (No.107 of 1998) makes provision for the development of assessment procedures that aim to ensure that the environmental consequences of policies, plans and programmes are considered.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Approving authority of enabling law

The authority that approved the enabling law for SEA.

Parliament

First national detailed SEA regulation

First national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) for SEA, through which SEA was operationalized.

There are national regulations that outline the procedural requirement for SEA. Some regulations though, for example the Municipal Planning and Performance Regulations, only state that a strategic assessment of the spatial development framework contained in the Municipality's plan is required. The procedure/ quality control mechanism are not given.

Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation

Revisions of the SEA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional relevant SEA-related legislation that has been published since the first legislation is listed.

No information (To be confirmed with DEA).

Sector specific procedures/regulations

Any existing sectoral procedure/regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.

No information (To be confirmed with DEA).

Guidelines

Any government issued guidelines on SEA (general or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describes the legal status of the guidelines.

In 2007 DEAT issued Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines as part of the Integrated Environmental Guideline Series.

Objective SEA

The objective of SEA as stated in the above described legal basis.

The guidelines give the following objective for SEA: to ensure environmental issues are addressed from an early stage in the process of formulating plans and programmes, and incorporated throughout this process. The SEA follows a sustainability-led approach that aims to facilitate local definitions of sustainability, as well as the formulation and implementation of strategies to achieve this.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Scope of SEA application

Describes for which planning processes (at policy, programme and plan level) SEA is required.

SEA is promoted for policies, plans and programs alike.

Exemptions from SEA application

Are any specific types of plans explicitly excluded from SEA application?

There are no obvious indications of exceptions.

SEA approach

Describes the current overall SEA approach. Specifically: Has the country's SEA procedure been modeled on the existing EIA approach? Or has a separate SEA approach been developed?

The DEAT 2007 SEA guidelines state that SEA can be EIA based, integrated and/or a sustainability-led process. The guidelines provide the advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

SEA tiering with EIA

Are there any provisions for tiering of EIA and SEA?

Information on SEA/EIA tiering is limited. The guideline promotes the concept of a tiered approach.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Institutional setting for SEA

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Central SEA authority

Is there a central authority in charge of the SEA system as a whole, responsible for issuing guidelines etc? If so, is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g. ministry)?

The Department of Environmental Affairs is the main SEA authority.

Mandate for exemption of SEA obligation

Is there a legal mandate for a competent authority to make exemptions of SEA obligation? If yes, under which conditions (e.g. national security, disasters or no conditions/when deemed necessary)?

Not specified

(De)centralisation of SEA mandates

Are SEA mandates (de)centralised? Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for SEA processes is delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decentralization refers to the reassignment of decision-making authority on SEA to government units on a sectoral basis.

Responsibility for SEA may be devolved to provincial and local authorities. This depends on the nature and location-specificity of the policy, plan or program. (To be confirmed with DEA).

Initiator of the SEA

Who initiates the SEA? Should the plan owner initiate and undertake the SEA or is an environmental authority responsible for undertaking the SEA. If an authority is responsible, which authority and at which level?

The Plan owner commissions the SEA study. The study is often managed by consultants with active involvement of the organisation that commissioned the SEA.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

SEA procedure

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Establishing context

Screening requirement and authority

Is a formal screening decision required? And if so, which authority is responsible for this decision? Is the decision published?

There is no specific information on screening decision authority.

Retief, F (2007). Effectiveness of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in South Africa. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management Vol. 9, No. 1 (March 2007) pp. 83–101

Screening process

Describes the screening process for SEA (if any), who is involved and who is responsible. What kind documentation on the SEA needs to be submitted for screening?

Screening approaches vary depending on the nature and the objective of PPPs. The SEA guidelines of 2007 mention the use of 'triggers', checklists, and seeking advice from a competent authority or other expertise. (To be confirmed with DEA)

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Timeline Screening

Maximum number of (working) days between submission of the screening request and the screening decision.

Not specified

Identification of stakeholders

Are stakeholders identified early on in the SEA? Who is responsible for identifying the stakeholders? Is a communication plan developed (addressing public and government engagement, disclosure, etc?).

It is advised that stakeholder engagement should be undertaken by a group of representatives of key authorities, NGO's or Community Based Organisations (CBO's) who form a steering committee, and then coordinate the participation of a wider group of stakeholders. Stakeholders are divided into two groups: key stakeholders who attend all meetings to provide input and general stakeholders who do not have to attend all meetings but have to be involved.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa (appendix 5)

Setting SEA objectives

Is there an early discussion on the objectives for the SEA (i.e. How it will support planning, how it will be integrated into the planning process)? Which stakeholders are involved? Are the outcomes of this discussion documented?

It also proposes that a clear vision of the SEA purpose and what is to be achieved is formulated with the involvement of community groups. Depending on the context, the vision can be defined through extensive stakeholder engagement, or the SEA team can draft a vision for discussion with stakeholders. This vision is then used to steer participants towards an agreed goal and set of objectives. Alternatives can be formulated through a combination of expert judgement, authority requirements and key stakeholder input, preferably drawing on the situation assessment and the analysis of opportunities and constraints.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Implementing the SEA

Scoping process

Is there a distinct scoping process? Who is responsible? Who is involved? What methods (if any) are prescribed (overlays, matrices, etc)?

Not clearly specified in legislation.  The guideline does recommend scoping and suggests that scoping is done by determining the limits of acceptable change, which are based on the SEA objectives and sustainability goals. It is advised that key stakeholders in the SEA process should agree upon the sustainability objectives and LAC. These limits are meant to provide valuable information to assist in the evaluation of potential significance of environmental effects and in choosing indicators for monitoring and evaluation.

Participation in scoping

If here is distinct scoping, is participation part of this process? Who is involved and how?

The guidelines suggests the involvement of specialists, authorities and other key stakeholders (including CBOs, NGOs, business, academics and educational institutions, any interested and affected member of the public).

Outcome of scoping

What are the expected outcomes of the scoping? e.g. decision criteria and suitable indicators of desired outcomes identified? If a ToR/scoping document is produced, what are the content requirements if any? Is the ToR reviewed? Is the outcome widely available?

The guideline suggests that the scoping outcome should include:

a) scale and boundary of SEA;
b) a vision for the plan;
c) sustainability objectives and criteria;
d) limits of acceptable change and thresholds;
e) indicators to describe current levels and trends of environmental quality, evaluate progress towards sustainability and to enable corrective and adaptive management during PPP implementation.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa (pg 19).

Baseline data

Are there any specific requirements for data collection (for example, on protected areas)?

Baseline data is required and is collected during 'situation analysis'. The specific methods for the data collection are not specified. However, the DEAT guidelines 2007 give a list of questions as suggestions for use by SEA practitioners during baseline data collection.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa (Section 4.5)

Alternatives

Are there any requirements for the alternatives to be considered in the SEA? How should alternatives be selected, ranked, compared?

It is advised that alternatives should be assessed against the SEA sustainability objectives. According to DEAT 2007, consideration should be given hierarchically to; a) need or demand; b) mode or process; c) location; d) timing and detailed implementation. Additionally, qualitative and quantitative assessment  including matrices may be used

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Assessment/mitigation of effects

What are the specific requirements for assessment and mitigation of impacts as part of SEA? Any specific methods prescribed?

The SEA guidelines state that the following should be considered in assessing impacts:

  • the degree of change in environmental quality likely; 
  • the extent to which the proposal meets sustainability requirements;
  • the levels of scientific uncertainty, gaps in information and or unprecedented nature of the proposal; and
  • the levels of risk of unacceptable, irreversible or irreplaceable loss of natural capital. Specifically, it is advised to use both quantitative and qualitative approaches including matrices, GIS, modelling, multi-criteria analysis, causal effect diagrams or causal chain analysis, cost benefit analysis, risk assessment and scenario building.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa (Section 4.8)

Institutional analysis

Is the institutional setting for implementation of the plan analysed? Is there explicit attention for the identification of opportunities to strengthen environmental constituencies?

As an SEA quality assurance, it is suggested in the DEAT 2007 guideline to evaluate the capacity of institutions and agencies to implement, manage, regulate and enforce the PPP.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Content of SEA report

If documentation is required, what should be contained in the SEA report?

Not specified

SEA review

Describes the requirements for SEA review. Specifically: Who reviews the SEA? An independent body? Environmental Authority? Is the review approach similar to EIA review in the country?

At present, there are no legislated responsibilities for government authorities to review a SEA. Reviewers could include relevant authorities, specialists and interested and affected parties. Review is guided by the terms of reference as determined at the beginning of the SEA process.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Participation in review

Are there any arrangements for participation in review? Who is involved? How is their involvement arranged?

Not specified

Timeline review

What is the timeline given for the review of the SEA, in (working) days?

Not specified

Informing and influencing decision-making

SEA and planning decision-making

What is the formal role of SEA in decision-making on the plan? Is SEA approval needed before a planning decision can be made?

SEA approval is not necessary for all planning decisions. However, municipalities are obliged to undertake SEA of the spatial development framework contained in the Municipality's plan.

Recommendations for decision-making

How are the results of the SEA and participation translated into recommendations for decision-making on the plan?

According to DEAT 2007 guidelines, SEA outcomes should include an explicit plan with specific actions to be taken in order of priority, clear and practical responsibilities, as well as timeframes and budgets (where possible), which ensure that the PPP can be implemented in the most sustainable manner possible. This plan should be presented to decision makers as a short, concise, summary of actions with supporting material in appendices as necessary. The plan should also provide clear instructions on checking the implementation of the PPP and its effectiveness, and give guidance on possible adaptive or corrective actions where implementation is not effective.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

Justification of decision

Does policy/programme/plan adoption decision-making have to be justified on the basis of the SEA?

Being a non-mandatory process, decisions do not necessarily have to be justified based on SEA. However, SEAs prepared within the framework of Municipal Systems Act Regulations are used as justifications for decisions.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department.

Monitoring

Monitoring requirement

Is there a requirement for implementation of decisions to be monitored? What is the role of SEA outcomes in this monitoring? What provisions exits for action to be undertaken if environmental problems occur?

An implementation strategy for monitoring of decisions is required. NEMA states that every environmental authorisation must ensure that adequate provision is made for on-going management and monitoring of the impacts of the activity on the environment through the life cycle of the project.

NEMA (sec 24d) and DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa

Evaluation requirement

Is there a formal requirement to evaluate the SEA? Similarly, to evaluate plan implementation before the next round of plan development? Are the two connected in this SEA system?

According to the guidelines, PPPs are supposed to be evaluated. Assessment is done for linkages, potential support for and/or conflict with other policies in different sectors or geographic regions, evaluating the effectiveness of policy implementation and assessing whether or not the outcomes are meeting the objectives of that policy.

DEAT (2007), Strategic Environmental Assessment Guideline, Integrated Environmental Guideline Series 4, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Pretoria, South Africa.

SEA practice

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Annual no. of SEAs

Gives an estimation for the number of SEAs that are produced annually in this country.

Approximately 5

Retief, F., Rossouw, N., Jones, C. And Jay, S. 2004 Status of SEA Practice in South Africa. Impact Assessment for Industrial Development: whose business is it?, International Association for Impact Assessment conference, Vancouver Canada.

Central SEA database

Is there a central database or library where information on SEAs is kept (i.e. where all SEAs are registered and/or copies are archived). If so, what is kept there and is this information publicly accessible?

There are no specified provisions for a central database. The relevant authority registers applications by the applicant/consultant.

Practice reviews

Any SEA practice review studies that have been done (by governmental agencies or others) are listed here. Where relevant, links to studies are included, and the main conclusions of the studies are summarised.

  • Francois Retief, 2007, Effectiveness of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in South Africa; Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management Vol. 9, No. pp. 83–101
  • CSIR. 2007. Enhancing the Effectiveness of SEA in South Africa. CSIR Report CSIR/NRE/RBSD/EXP/2007/0068/A .
  • DEAT based on knowledge and experience from South African practitioners, academics, environmental professionals, NGOs, interested persons and authorities evaluated the SEA system in 2007 and came up with guidelines for use in practice of SEA.

Case studies

SEA case studies on which information is available are listed here, including a link to case documentation, if available.

In the 2007 CSIR report cases are described: Enhancing the Effectiveness of SEA in South Africa. CSIR Report CSIR/NRE/RBSD/EXP/2007/0068/A.

Professional bodies

Professional bodies relevant to SEA practice, such as SEA Associations, Planning Associations, etc are listed here.

  • Centre for Public Participation: The Centre for Public Participation is an independent non-partisan organisation contributing towards the buildings of an empowered civil society engaging actively with accessible and accountable structures and processes of government. Through its monitoring, lobbying, research and capacity building programmes, it strives to ensure that the government policy and legislative processes are transparent, accessible and accountable.
  • International Association for Impact Assessment South African Affiliate (IAIAsa) The website of IAIAsa contains useful information, resources and links for EIA practitioners, as well as information on forthcoming conferences.
  • The Southern Africa Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA) is an independent  organisation, with access to a large number of professionals from within the southern African region, who provide expertise in a wide range of fields and disciplines. Their website contains links to case studies, EIA guidelines, Manuals and training on EIA.
  • The Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association
    of South Africa (EAPASA)
    performs a quality assurance role in EA
    practice. 802 individuals are the founding members and form the
    organisation. It has not yet been consituted.

Capacity development

Sets out any ongoing training programmes (including professional and academic training) and major training events held in the past (with focus on recent events).

Professional Development (PD) Fellowship Program for East and Southern Africa.  CLEAA works with various environmental assessment leaders nationally, regionally and globally, in partnership with IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), with financial support from Swedish International development Agency (SIDA)  to promote and enhance Africa’s capacity in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), for better environmental governance and sustainable development.

Non-governmental SEA guidance

Lists any SEA manuals and good practice publications (including checklists, case studies) that have been published by parties other than government.

Sasol Public Participation Manual: Sasol Limited is a global energy company with headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is engaged in the commercial production and marketing of chemicals and liquid fuels; with a growing interest in oil and gas exploration. They have produced a manual for public participation.

http://www.sasol.com/sasol_internet/downloads/Public_Participation_Guidelines_1039104304094.pdf

SEA links

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Links to laws/regulation

Links to relevant SEA laws or regulations.

Other relevant links on SEA

Other relevant links on SEA in the country are given here.

  • National Planning Commission