Address at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning | Western Cape Government

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Address at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning

5 June 2012

Welcome and thank you for affording me an opportunity to address you from this platform.

It has been said that co-operation dates as far back as human beings have been organising for mutual benefit. As a people elect we serve communities with diverse socio-economic needs and this serves as the very reason to inspire us to be "Better Together".

Our developing context requires of our service delivery efforts to have the type of impact that improves the lives of these communities. The ability to have this impact requires us to work hand in hand not only with our communities, but more importantly with all spheres of government.

In as much as we have an oversight responsibility as a provincial government, my Department is especially passionate about capacity building.

During the 2010/2011 financial period 233 complaints were received and investigated. It is also the intention of my team to investigate 100% of the complaints received in the new financial period.

This is an indication that our communities are becoming more and more aware of their environmental rights and how to work together with my Department to protect their natural environment.

Extensive work is also being done by CapeNature, which during the previous financial period undertook 133 law enforcement actions to combat the loss of biodiversity.

Significant progress is also being achieved as new Environmental Management Inspectors will be registered, therefore increasing the capacity to combat environmental crimes.

Water Management

  • My Department has prioritised river and estuary rehabilitation to address pollution in key economically important rivers of the Western Cape. It is the intention of my team to work closely with the Berg River Task Team led by the National Department of Water Affairs and joined by the Department of Local Government and CapeNature.
  • We will also be working closely with the National Estuary Monitoring Programme and National River Health Programme to develop monitoring protocols during this financial period, in order to monitor water quality in those rivers and estuaries.

My Department has also developed an Action Plan to implement the Provincial Programme of Action on reducing land-based pollution to the marine environment.

Biodiversity Management

CapeNature launched and open their flagship tourism offering, Oudebosch at the Kogelberg Nature Reserve during February 2012.

Oudebosch has set a new benchmark in sustainable development and has already received international recognition by being awarded the prestigious Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction.

Climate Change

During the 2009/10 financial period I approved the White Paper on Sustainable Energy for the Western Cape.

The aim of this framework serves as an effective and practical tool to mitigate the effects of climate change and promote the eradication of energy poverty.

A draft Sustainable Energy Bill was born from the White Paper and this provides a sustainable energy framework for the Province to promote sustainable energy practices.

It is the intention of my Department to provide support to four municipalities to develop sustainable energy plans during the new financial period.

In addition to advancing renewable energies as an alternative sustainable source of energy and encouraging improvements in energy efficiency, my Department will provide support to four municipalities in the new financial period to develop climate change adaptation plans.

During the new financial year we will also review the Western Cape policies and strategies to ensure alignment with the National White Paper on Climate Change.

The Department has been undertaking a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of sites suitable for wind energy developments in the Western Cape.

The aim of the assessment is to provide transparency to and consistency in EIA criteria and decision making.

Critical Biodiversity Areas maps are to replace the previous biodiversity layers to account for ecological processes and climate change resilience.

Built Environment

My Department will facilitate the approval of the Land Use Planning Act during the new financial period.

A draft Bill was finalised after lengthy consultations with Western Cape municipalities and Province wide public workshops have already commenced involving all key stakeholders.

This legislative framework will consolidate existing planning legislation and ensure improved alignment with planning and other development legislation.

One of the primary objectives of the Land Use Planning Act is to clarify the division of powers of the different spheres of government, as provided for in our Constitution, in terms of land use decision making.

An Integrated Review of the Provincial Spatial Development Framework will be finalised in the new financial period. This will provide an indication to investors where the Western Cape Government wants to promote and facilitate economic growth and where we consider the best development opportunities are.

Pollution and Waste Management

During the 2010/2011 financial period, my Department monitored ambient air quality at six locations. Monitoring was increased during the 2011/2012 period to seven sites and with an additional nine being added during the new financial period.

The Western Cape Provincial Integrated Waste Management Plan was developed to ensure that the legislative waste licencing function is administered by my Department.

We intend to implement a Green Procurement Policy to minimise the environmental impact of government operations by changing the focus of procurement considerations in areas such as: paper and stationery, lighting equipment, office electronic equipment, events greening, cleaning products and services as well as waste services.

Impact Management

Targets identified for the new financial period are as follows:

  • 800 EIA applications finalised.
  • 90% of EIA applications finalised within legislated time frames.
  • 1300 planning applications finalised.

Reaching Out to Our Communities

  1. My Department is aligned nationally.
  2. My Department understands its responsibility of oversight and empowerment to our local sphere of government.
  3. My Department is faced with challenges but we are very cognisant of the needs of our communities who need us to protect the state of their natural environment.
  4. My Department understands stakeholder relations as an approach to improving service delivery imperatives - PSO7 has allowed us to forge significant strategic relations and to abolish a silo working mentality.
  5. I am most aware that what we do today: will change the future of tomorrow and this can only be done when we work hand in hand.