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Environmental Act for coast

Environmental Commissioner, Mr. Teofilus Nghitila (centre), with officials from Langer Heinrich Uranium mine and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Photograph by the Namibian Coastal Conservation and Management Unit.

Environmental Commissioner, Mr. Teofilus Nghitila (centre), with officials from Langer Heinrich Uranium mine and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Photograph by the Namibian Coastal Conservation and Management Unit.

Environmental Commissioner Teofilu Nghitila recently lead a delegation of journalists and employees of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to monitor compliance with the provisions of the Environment Management Act, particularly among mining and quarrying companies in the Namib Naukluft and Dorob National Parks. Nghitila said the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has put systems in place to ensure a rigorous, efficient and transparent process of implementation of the act in the coastal regions. The visit to the mining and quarrying sites took place on 8 and 13 August. The Environmental Management Act that came into effect in 2012 makes it a legal requirement for the assessment and management of activities which may have a negative impact on the environment.
The commissioner said it is an important law in promoting sustainable development. “An Environmental Clearance Certificate issued by the Environmental Commissioner is needed before any construction, mining, quarrying, waste disposal, aquaculture, irrigation schemes, veterinary fences and other activities can take place” he said adding that certificates must be renewed after a maximum period of three years.

Explaining the mechanics of the law, the commissioner said a clearance certificate will usually contain conditions including the submission of a bi-annual Environmental Performance Assessment Report. Additionally, the Environmental Commissioner is tasked to conduct inspections to monitor compliance with the Environmental Management Act.  “The act does not intend to hamper economic activity,  rather ensuring that all activities are planned and implemented in a manner that has minimum impact on sensitive and fragile environment, particularly for coastal regions, which host most of the country’s mineral wealth and a rich variety of biodiversity and ecosystems.” He advised developers of all projects need to be aware of their obligation to screen the list of activities in determining whether they need to apply for environmental clearance for their projects.

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