Saturday, September 25, 2021

Environmental law tightening to weed out bogus consultants

Revision of the Environment Assessment Act will lead to the weeding out of bogus Environment Impact Assessment consultants who have been swindling people out of their money, it has been learnt.

After the enactment of the act in 2005, many phoney environmental assessment consultants mushroomed.

“What has stirred the amended of the Act is the inappropriate conduct of the EIA practitioners,” said Portia Segomelo, the Director of Environmental Affairs.

“The consultants have been charging clients anyhow ranging from P5000 to 10 000, there was no price control,” she added.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a planning tool used to identify, predict, and assess potential impact either negative or positive that may arise from planned projects, and come up with ways with which to minimise negative impacts and enhance positive ones.

Segomelo said even the reports that came from the consultants assessments were not up to standard.
“Most of the reports were rejected but the consultants would not inform their clients claiming the department is taking its time,” said Segomelo.

She said the department has the names of the misbehaving consultants and will be handing over the lists to the new board, if possible that they may discontinue operations.

“Project developers when they engage consultant’s services they should know whom they are dealing with, if their consultant is certified,” said Segomelo.

The Act amendments will see the establishment of a registered association created to regulate the conduct of the EIA practitioners and streamline the tariffs and fees they charge developers for their services.

All consultants will be required to register with the association to operate. Consultants will be registered basing on their qualifications, level of experience.

Segomelo said the new Act is well encompassing with three major components which are assessment of projects, strategic environment assessment, auditing of projects. The act also provides for the establishment of the appeals committee to attend to appeals from aggrieved persons with respect to the implementation of the Act.

All project briefs submitted to the Department of Environment Assessment for review will be accompanied by a fee charged for the provision of services, ranging from P10 ÔÇôP1500.

She added that the new provision provides a timeline of 28 working days within which the department of environmental affairs should have responded after submission of the Scoping report.

In addition, the screening tool has been changed from preliminary environmental impact assessment to project brief form. All project proponents are therefore expected to complete the project brief form and submit it to the department of environmental affairs offices for review. Segomelo said the new amendments will come into effect on 1st April 2013.

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