27 June 2005
The top 50 air-polluting industries in South Africa are to be targeted in a bid to improve South Africa’s air quality, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced in Cape Town on Monday.
The department will review major polluters’ air-pollution permit conditions as a precursor to implementing the new Air Quality Act, Van Schalkwyk said. The review will be an interim measure while the government works on the far stricter law.
“We will be helping industry to prepare for and phase in the much stricter standards of the new law, and perhaps most importantly we will be improving air quality sooner rather than later for our communities,” he said.
Speaking at the Western Cape’s Sustainable Development Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Van Schalkwyk said a contractor would be appointed by the end of July to identify the country’s top 50 air-polluting industries.
“Once identified we will, in partnership with provinces and local councils, target these industries to completely review their air-pollution permit conditions,” he said.
The department will train and employ at least 30 air-quality licensing officers in each of the nine provinces. This will build the skills needed to apply the new Air Quality Act, Van Schalkwyk said.
“As industry and communities pump greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the air, the planet is getting warmer, our rainfall patterns are changing and our plant and animal species are increasingly under threat.
“Sustainable development is about ensuring the future of our people and our planet. It is the balancing act between growth and development today, and the health and well-being of our children tomorrow,” he said.
“Will we have enough clean water to drink in 10 or 15 or 20 years? Will there be enough soil in our third and fourth decades of freedom to grow the food to feed our people? For us, sustainable development is about survival.”
A national strategy
Van Schalkwyk said the conference was the first time the global message of the World Summit on Sustainable Development had been translated into a programme of action on a provincial level in South Africa.
“We can only hope that this conference will provide a model to be applied in other provinces, and ultimately at the level of local government as well.”
Earlier this year Cabinet approved a framework for a National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), he said.
“The outcomes of this conference will, we believe, feed directly into the NSSD development process, which we aim to complete by March next year.”