Statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development
21 July 2017
Statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Waste Management – Municipal mandates and responsibilities
The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has noted with concern, comments made by the leadership of several local municipalities in the Eden District relating to the establishment of a new regional waste landfill site (RWDF) in Mossel Bay.
The purpose of the site is to serve the communities of Knysna, George, Bitou and Mossel Bay.
Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning says the project is a top priority because an existing contract with PetroSA which allows municipalities to dispose waste at the PetroSA facility ends on 31 July 2018.
“There is currently no other landfill airspace available in the area. Should the RWDF not be established it will be environmentally disastrous for the municipalities of Bitou, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay,” warns Bredell.
The project to investigate the establishment of a RWDF was initiated in 2007 by the Eden District Municipality after full consultation with all the affected local municipalities.
“Through the various phases of the project since 2007 the Eden District Municipality has followed a consultative process with the affected municipalities and with active support and oversight by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning,” says Bredell.
Bredell says the Department has repeatedly warned the affected municipalities since the project was initiated in 2007, that the establishment of the RWDF will result in an increase in the cost of waste management for the municipalities and that they should also invest in the establishment of integrated waste management infrastructure to recover waste material and to minimise the waste that has to be disposed of.
The Department has also continuously provided technical advice and assistance to affected municipalities when required. “Very few of the affected municipalities prioritised the establishment of the waste management infrastructure.”
The cost of the establishment of the RWDF was further negatively impacted on by the country adopting new national norms and standards for landfills in August 2013.
“My Department and I are working closely with the national Department of Environmental Affairs to review the latest norms and standards for landfill sites in the hopes of making it more affordable for municipalities to establish waste disposal facilities. These consultations remain ongoing.”
The Head of Department for the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs, Piet van Zyl, says disposal of waste generated by communities and any related cost, is constitutionally mandated to be the responsibility of the relevant local municipality.
“Given rapid population growth and urbanisation, the growing waste disposal problem is one the provincial government is monitoring with a keen eye.
However we would like to emphasize that local communities and their municipalities must accept the responsibility to deal with waste management – as mandated by law – lies with them. This includes driving programs like minimisation of waste, recycling and budgeting sufficiently for waste management,” says Van Zyl.
Bredell says efficiently run municipalities remain key to delivering the services needed to make the province a better place for all who live in it.
“The establishment of this site is vital to address waste management and environmental concerns related to waste disposal, in the Eden district and I know our municipal leaders are fully aware of this fact. Given the urgency of this project that is currently at a critical stage, the department and I will not hesitate to act if local authorities do not cooperate and comply to their constitutional mandate in this regard. Leaders stand for public office because they are willing to also make the difficult decisions that benefit their communities in the long run. In the Western Cape we are proud of our leaders that understand they serve the communities of today and tomorrow. I look forward to the ongoing cooperation in this matter.”