March 31, 2017  

The Department of Environmental Affairs has released an updated Need and Desirability Guideline Document dated 2017. 

“When considering an application for Environmental Authorisation (EA), the competent authority must comply with section 24O of the National Environmental Management Act, No 107 of 1998 (NEMA), and must have regard for any guideline published in terms of section 24J of the Act and any minimum information requirements for the application. This includes this need and desirability guideline. 

Additionally, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations require environmental assessment practitioners (EAPs) who undertake environmental assessments, to have knowledge and take into account relevant guidelines. A person applying for an EA must abide by the regulations, which are binding on the applicant.

The guideline contains information on best practice and how to meet the peremptory requirements prescribed by the legislation and sets out both the strategic and statutory context for the consideration of the need and desirability of a development involving any one of the NEMA listed activities. Need and desirability is based on the principle of sustainability, set out in the Constitution and in NEMA, and provided for in various policies and plans, including the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP). Addressing the need and desirability of a development is a way of ensuring sustainable development – in other words, that a development is ecologically sustainable and socially and economically justifiable – and ensuring the simultaneous achievement of the triple bottom-line. 

The Guideline sets out a list of questions which should be addressed when considering need and desirability of a proposed development. These are divided into questions that relate to ecological sustainability and justifiable economic and social development. The questions that relate to ecological sustainability include how the development may impact ecosystems and biological diversity; pollution; and renewable and non-renewable resources. When considering how the development may affect or promote justifiable economic and social development, the relevant spatial plans must be considered, including Municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDP), Spatial Development Frameworks (SDF) and Environmental Management Frameworks (EMF). The assessment reports will need to provide information as to how the development will address the socio-economic impacts of the development, and whether any socio-economic impact resulting from the development impact on people’s environmental rights. Considering the need and desirability of a development entails the balancing of these factors.”   

A copy of the guideline may be downloaded here

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