Updated: Sep 22, 2020
1. An SEA (strategic environmental assessment) for the Musina-Makhado region must be completed
WE OBJECT TO : Allowing the project proponents to begin site clearance for a potentially disastrous project without first holistically assessing the true risks of the EMSEZ.
The EIA only broadly and generally discusses the various projects under the EMSEZ. In light of the massive scale of the EMSEZ and the potential for significant harm throughout the region, such an approach is flawed and unlawful. We therefore submit that the EMSEZ must undertake an SEA before any further steps under this EIA process are taken.
Without an SEA, this EIA, which purportedly focuses only on the clearing of land, should not proceed because it is not capable of assessing the full breadth of cumulative impacts of EMSEZ and its associated projects;
The EMSEZ is a large-scale proposal comprised of multiple polluting projects that could each and cumulatively have serious negative effects on the environment and human rights. It is proposed in a highly water sensitive region and could have disastrous consequences on water and food security in the area. In addition, a large amount of mining will be associated with the EMSEZ, potentially wreaking havoc on air and water quality, and human health. Moreover, the region surrounding the EMSEZ is an intact and ecologically critical ecosystem, which has the potential to provide economic development and valuable services in a sustainable way. The area also has cultural and heritage significance. Yet despite these widespread potential harms, the current environmental review is limited to only clearance of one of two sites for EMSEZ, and does not and will not consider thoroughly the potential impacts of all actions associated with the EMSEZ.
The various EMSEZ projects’ impacts on biodiversity, heritage and ecological function. In particular it fails to assess impacts in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve), Kruger National Park, Nzehlele Nature Reserve and Mapungubwe National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site);
The EIA fails to consider the cumulative impacts of the project including the environmental, health and climate impacts of the many new coal and mineral mines that will supply EMSEZ. Over 104,000 ha of new coal mines are proposed for the region, including Mopane Project, Chapudi Project, Makhado Project, Generaal Project, and Vele Project, with no assessment of, or reference to, their environmental impacts. The SEA and EIA processes must assess the impacts of these new coal mines that will supply EMSEZ – in particular no provision is made for the assessment of impacts of these mines and associated projects on protected areas, endangered species, and ecosystems;
2. THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES MUST BE DESIGNATED AS THE COMPETENT DECISION-MAKING AUTHORITY FOR ANY EMSEZ EIA PROCESSES
WE OBJECT TO : LEDET being appointed as the competent authority
Given its far-reaching environmental and human rights impacts, the EMSEZ and the industrial development plans associated with it are a matter of national importance, which cannot proceed without the consultation and express approval of the DEFF, among other Departments, at a national level.
The incorrect competent authority has been appointed to oversee the scoping assessment and the other EIA processes in relation to the EMSEZ. We submit that this is a matter of national importance and one which cannot proceed without the consultation and approval of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).
Further, the EMSEZ EIA process falls within the scope of section 24C(2)(d)(iii) of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) by virtue of the fact that the activities are being undertaken by a statutory body i.e. the LEDA. LEDA, the project proponent, is a statutory body governed by the Limpopo Economic Development Agency Act 5 of 2016.
In this regard, section 24C(2)(d)(iii) NEMA states that
“[t]he Minister must be identified as the competent authority … if the activity … (d) is undertaken, or is to be undertaken, by … (iii) a statutory body, excluding any municipality, performing an exclusive competence of the national sphere of government”.
Therefore, it is the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries – and not LEDET – which must be regarded as the competent authority for the EIA process currently being undertaken for the EMSEZ, and for all future EIA processes for EMSEZ;
Notwithstanding the legal requirements of section 24C(2)(d)(iii), we submit that given its far-reaching environmental and human rights impacts, the EMSEZ and the industrial development plans associated with it are a matter of national importance, which cannot proceed without the consultation and express approval of the DEFF, among other Departments, at a national level.
3. The EIA must provide for a CCIA, which must be a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the climate change impacts of the proposed NEMA activities.
WE OBJECT TO : allowing the EMSEZ to go ahead. We strenuously object to a 90+30 year deal. The reduction of South Africa’s GHG emissions is not merely an international obligation but a Constitutional imperative. We submit that allowing the EMSEZ to go ahead would be a flagrant violation of, inter alia, the Constitutional rights: to human dignity; to life; and to an environment not harmful to health or well-being and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, on the basis of the immense climate change impacts that the EMSEZ will have.
We strongly object to the lack of assessment on the direct, as well as indirect and cumulative, GHG emissions associated with the project. This information MUST be made available so that I&APs, authorities and relevant decision- makers can properly consider these significant impacts and provide appropriate comments.
Government has confirmed the urgent need to reduce South Africa’s GHG emissions and the country’s extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The industrial components of the EMSEZ would individually and cumulatively emit significant GHG emissions, given the intensive nature of their processes, such as coal boilers and the indirect emissions of the supplying coal mines. In addition to our obligations under the Paris Agreement, the UN Secretary General (Mr Antonio Guterres) has repeatedly pleaded that no new coal plants be built after 2020 a 60-80% reduction in the use of coal by 2030 and negligible use of coal by 2050 are necessary.
According to the 2016 LEDET Provincial Climate Change Response Strategy (“LEDET Strategy”): “in most climate change scenarios projected for the Limpopo river basin in South Africa, future water supply availability will ‘worsen considerably’ by 2050
4. The EIA must provide clarity on water supply during the construction and operation phases, which must be a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the water supply and demand impacts of the proposed NEMA activities.
We assert the conditions set by the EA are NOT met for the long term water source and the EMSEZ proposal should be rejected (the water is not guaranteed and the environmental consequences have not been assessed and the EMPr contains no reference to managing or assessing the aquifer)
We object to the following :
WE STRONGLY OBJECT TO : the lack of comprehensive assessment on the impact of the water supply for EMSEZ in a highly water stressed region. The EAP recommends that there should be “guaranteed water” for EMSEZ before approving the project. 95% of the long term water needs will be supplied as “raw water from the Musina Dam”. This dam is to be filled with Limpopo water – yet no assessment has been made that the water is in fact available. The water specialists recommend doing this assessment as mitigation. This information MUST be made available so that Interested and Affected Parties. authorities and relevant decision- makers can properly consider these significant impacts and provide appropriate comments. The conditions for approval of the project set by the EA are NOT met for this source and the EMSEZ proposal should be rejected on this basis (the water is not guaranteed and the environmental consequences have not been assessed and the EMPr contains no reference to these dams)
IF 95% OF THE WATER SUPPLY COMES FROM THE "MUSINA DAM", WHY ARE THE DAMS IGNORED IN BOTH THE EIA & THE MANAGEMENT PLAN? WE STRENOUSLY OBJECT TO : allowing the EMSEZ to go ahead with the assumption that 2 x 200 Mn cubic meter dams can be built in the Sand River with no environmental assessment of these. The "Musina Dam” is an unbuilt “concept” dam which is not once mentioned in the Environmental Management Plan and is not mentioned as part of either of the SEZ sites. Yet there is a “unsolicited” quote to build two of these dams for R25Bn from an unknown source. It is also concluded that these dams “protect the interests of the Zimbabweans and Mozambiquans” – but no explanation of how taking the Limpopo water protects their interests. There is no assessment in the EIA on the environmental impact or the consequences of building these dams – either on the downstream water users and acquifers or on the land where the dams will be built.There must be a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the environmental impacts of the proposed daming activities so the interested and affected parties can have opportunity to comment.
WE OBJECT to the EAP water specialist's assessment that the risk reduces if a water study is undertaken of the water in the Limpopo. The study in itself will not reduce the risk. The assessor has made a critical error in their scientific assessment and the water risk remains as "high impact" and "negative.
Without a guaranteed supply of water, the EMSEZ would not be able to function, nor would it be able to contribute towards long-term regional “development” goals without having severe consequences for other water-users and ecosystems. This could have country-wide repercussions, particularly if water resources from other parts of the country are to be relied on.
The analyses of water use and water availability in the region are extremely flawed;
the proposal lacks basic facts about the proposed projects that will be part of EMSEZ, including: what each component will entail; the amount and type of fuel to be used; annual water requirements during construction and operation; wastewater volumes; solid waste volumes; and annual air pollution emissions, including mercury and other heavy metals, and it fails to include an adequate baseline assessment of air, soil and water quality in the region;
The project would be built in an area of Limpopo that is already so water- stressed that the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, and the FSR concede that a “definite source of sustainable water for the SEZ is still under investigation”. Climate change will exacerbate the stress on water resources in the region.
Without adequate assessment the EMSEZ will have disastrous impacts on commercial farming, rural communities and the environment.