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Legal Toolbox

Environmental Planning Policies and Guidelines

Further to laws which make provision for concrete protection of water source areas, our environmental legislation also provides a suite of planning tools, policies, plans, guidelines and principles which are used to guide decision-making processes of various authorities. The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act requires all relevant considerations to be taken into account when administrative acts are taken, and certainly any published guidelines, plans, policies and principles would generally be regarded as relevant considerations. Failing to take these documents and principles into account would make any decision so taken subject to review and may be set aside by a court.

Some of the most important documents and principles relevant to protection of water source areas include:

  • The National Environmental Management Act principles spelled out in section 2 which, in themselves, serve as guidelines in terms of which any organ of state must exercise any function when taking any decision in terms of the National Environmental Management Act;
  • The objective of integrated environmental management which is to promote the integration of the section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act principles into all decision-making which may have a significant effect on the environment;
  • Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs) provided for in the National Environmental Management Act;
  • Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs) which inform municipal spatial planning;
  • Biodiversity management plans and bioregional plans provided for in the Biodiversity Act, which usually inform provincial spatial planning; and
  • Biodiversity stewardship programmes which provide impetus towards formally declared protected areas.

There are further a suite of documents which have been developedĀ as guidelines to inform future best practice. Together, planning tools and guidelines/policies can be used to further strengthen the protection of water source areas, directly or indirectly.