Industry should be aware that efforts to bring its activities into compliance with the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act should precede investigation by the environmental authorities or complaints from the public.

Operating without adequate licenses for all activities on a particular site may be an offence and the status and levels of emissions should be monitored, recorded and reduced were possible.

A silicon smelter claims to have spent significant capital totalling R13million to comply with directives issued in terms of both the Air Quality Act and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) since 2010.

These efforts came too late and the 3 million rand fine that was levied by the Pretoria regional court on 15 August 2011 has set a new record for the Department of Environment or Green Scorpions.

The company alleges that at least part of the contraventions related to licenses being in the wrong name and it is therefore imperative that owners of pollution producing installations keep all permits up to date.

The Air Quality Act came into force in 2010, it lists activities resulting in atmospheric emissions which have, or may have, a significant detrimental effect on the environment and the minimum emission standards for these activities.

Provisional and full licenses issued under the now repealed Air Pollution Prevention Act must be replaced and the regulations of the Air Quality Act specify the listed activities which require Emissions Licenses and the minimum emission standards which are to be complied with for the relevant activity.

Please contact us if you require information about the Air Quality Act or the regulations.