Please find below the following interesting readings and summaries of court cases applicable to the environmental field:
- Legislation: Environmental tax incentive Bill out for comment
“A draft Income Tax Amendment Bill aimed at giving effect to 2019/20 Budget announcements on environmental tax incentives was released yesterday for comment. According to an accompanying explanatory memorandum, the proposed new statute seeks to extend the duration of existing energy efficiency savings incentives until 31 December 2022, when the first phase of carbon tax implementation is scheduled to end. The draft Bill also seeks to avoid ‘a double benefit scenario’ in which ‘the same emission reductions’ not only ‘lower carbon tax liability for a taxpayer under the Carbon Tax Act’ but also qualify the emitter to an income tax exemption under section 12K of the Income Tax Act.”
- Science: Escobar H “Deforestation in the Amazon is shooting up, but Brazil’s president calls the data ‘a lie’” 28 July 2019;
- Shikongo A “No bail for suspected lion killers” Namibian 31 July 2019 [Legalbrief 2 August 2019];
- Science: Pennisi E “The world’s biggest frogs build their own ponds” 8 August 2019;
- IFL Science: McCall R “Land Managed by Indigenous Peoples have the Greatest Levels of Biodiversity” 7 August 2019; and,
- Grobler R “Finally: A solution to get rid of the beetle that is killing SA’s trees” News24 10 August 2019.
Climate change and energy:
- Perrone A “July was hottest month ever recorded on Earth, preliminary data shows” The Independent 2 August 2019; and
- Sharman J “Greenland’s ice sheet melting so fast it has caused global sea levels to rise 0.5mm in just a month” The Independent 2 August 2019.
Environmental: Thyspunt again considered for nuclear site
“The plan to build a nuclear reactor at Thyspunt near Cape St Francis has been reignited, with public hearings for an installation site licence scheduled to take place this year. The Herald reports Eskom is pushing ahead with the legislative processes in case the Thyspunt site is ever needed in the future. The announcement of the public hearings comes two years after Eskom and the Department of Environmental Affairs said a nuclear reactor would be built at Duynefontein – near Koeberg in Cape Town – instead of the originally preferred site at St Francis Bay. However, the National Nuclear Regulator placed an advertisement in the Kouga Express on 18 July calling for public hearings for the nuclear installation site licence. Anti-nuclear coalition Thyspunt Alliance has vowed to continue fighting any possibility of a reactor at Thyspunt, but Jeffreys Bay’s Thyspunt Nuclear Development Forum has welcomed the news. Since the publication of the advert, the public hearings have been postponed from the end of September to an unscheduled date in November.” [Legalbrief 5 August 2019].
- James N “Aspasa calls for more oversight, increased awareness of legislation“ Mining Weekly 31 July 2019 [Legalbrief Environmental 6 August 2019].
Environmental: Petroleum firm withdraws KZN fracking bid
AgriSA and Moolman & Pienaar Attorneys – acting for farmers in some of the major exploration applications – have welcomed a victory in the anti-fracking fight after a US-linked petroleum firm withdrew its application to explore for oil and gas on KZN farms. The Mercury reports Hans-Jurie Moolman – acting for a landowner affected by an exploration right application lodged on farms owned by Normandien Farms and other farmers – said they had recently learned that petroleum firm Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration SA had withdrawn its exploration rights application for Normandien Farms. He said another law firm acting for Normandien Farms, which had been preparing for an appeal it had lodged in the Constitutional Court regarding the matter, had been informed of the withdrawal by Petroleum Agency SA (Pasa). Respondents in the matter were Pasa, Rhino Oil and Gas and the Minister of Mineral Resources. Rhino Oil and Gas has also lodged a separate exploration right application with Pasa to explore for oil and gas on almost 6 000 farms covering more than 1m hectares of prime farmlands and environmentally sensitive areas, including the uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Legalbrief 7 August 2019.
- IISD SDG Knowledge Hub: Mead L “2019 Earth Overshoot Day Reaches Earliest Date Ever” 1 August 2019
Water and sanitation:
- General: Limpopo water transfer project on hold pending EIA appeal
“The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has confirmed that work on the R12.3bn Mokolo-Crocodile Water Augmentation Project Phase 2A (MCWAP-2A) project will not commence while there is an appeal against the project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) authorisation. A Mining Weekly report notes that in June, the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) announced that it had commenced with the implementation of MCWAP-2A, which is designed to transfer water largely to support mining and energy activities in the Limpopo Province, including Eskom’s Medupi coal-fired power station. In April, however, Earthlife Africa and groundWork lodged an appeal against the EIA authorisation issued to the DWS in December 2018 by the then Department of Environmental Affairs, now the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). In their notice of appeal, prepared by the Centre for Environmental Rights, Earthlife Africa and groundWork called on the Minister to review and set aside the authorisation owing to the project’s high environmental impacts, including the project’s climate impact as a result of it supporting the coal industry in the province. DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in terms of the legislation, the next step was for the DEFF to decide on the appeals and to respond. The project, Ratau says, is at the preparation stage, with the tender-design and documentation phase having commenced.” Legalbrief Environmental 6 August 2019.
- National Council of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Minister of Environmental Affairs and Others (86515/2017)  ZAGPPHC 337(6 August 2019)
“ These proceedings relate to the process by which South Africa sets annual export quotas for trade in lion bone, bone pieces, bone products, claws skeletons, skulls and the like for commercial purposes which are derived from captive breeding operations in South Africa. This application is not about the captive lion breeding industry as a whole and the debates that have emerged at both the national as well as at an international level concerning its existence and continuance.  The Applicant seeks to review and have declared unlawful and constitutionally invalid the decisions of the First Respondent of the 28 June 2017 and 7 June 2018 in which the quotas for the exportation of lion bone were determined at 800 and 1500 lion skeletons respectively. All the Respondents oppose the relief sought.”