Speech

Atmospheric Emissions Licence Handover Ceremony

19 July 2012

Welcome and thank you for sharing this historic occasion as I join the respective teams and stakeholders in handing over the first Atmospheric Emission Licence for a refinery in South Africa.

This milestone truly defines our ability as different spheres of government, civil society and the economic industry to become "Better Together". This principle is about holding hands to preserve our natural environment and the air that we breathe.

This is another example of co-operative governance. In light of resource and skills constraints, officials from my department, the Eden District Municipality and the National Department of Environmental Affairs must be commended on the hard work invested into making this moment a reality.

The reality of co-operative governance is about respective responsibility. PetroSA is a strategic business whose contribution to the energy sector goes beyond the boundaries of the Western Cape. This organisation is one of the few utilities that exploit the large reserves of natural gas from the sea bed to produce a wide range of much-needed fuels.

This licence bears testament to PetroSA's responsibility to the environment and understanding that while business continues as usual, there is a responsibility to ensure that operations are conducted within environmental legislative prescripts and with due regard for a clean and healthy environment which is the right of every citizen.

By raising their concerns our citizens have expressed their responsibility to the environment and are becoming environmentally conscious. My department, together with key stakeholders, has responded to our communities by, for example, operating an ambient air quality monitoring station which is located in Dana Baai.

With this monitoring station, we are not only assessing the quality of the air that we breathe; the monitoring station also forms part of a larger Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network in the province. This network aims to provide an overall picture of the state of air quality in the Western Cape, which at present is fairly good.

The Eden District Municipality team has fulfilled the responsibility to pioneer the intricate licensing procedure and as a result have made the first Atmospheric Emission Licence for a refinery in South Africa a reality. The staff of the District Municipalities also assist in regular checks and maintenance required at the monitoring station to ensure reliable monitoring results.

Air quality governance is about sharing the responsibility between the different spheres of government. It involves establishing ambient air quality standards as well as air quality management planning and reporting. While there is a constant need to work together, it is imperative that we firstly acknowledge our duty of care, as a government, as citizens and as the various social institutions to preserve and protect our environment for future generations.

Thank you.