Home South African Minister Creecy appealing portion of judgment in ’deadly air’ case

Minister Creecy appealing portion of judgment in ’deadly air’ case

335

Human rights and environmental organisations had welcomed the court’s decision that upheld communities’ constitutional right to an environment not harmful to their health and well-being.

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy. File picture

FORESTRY, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, seeking leave to appeal certain portions of the judgment in favour of NGOs in the Mpumalanga “deadly air” case.

Human rights and environmental organisations last month welcomed the court’s decision which upheld communities’ constitutional right to an environment not harmful to their health and well-being.

Non-profit groundWork and Vukani Environmental Justice Alliance Movement in Action, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, first instituted legal proceedings in 2019 against the government for its failure to uphold its obligations regarding air pollution in the Mpumalanga highveld region. They argued that people living and working in the region were breathing toxic, polluted air that was harmful to their health and well-being.

Judge Colleen Collis held that “the undisputed evidence is that the present ambient air pollution levels by far exceed the national standards, and that the levels recorded pose a threat to a safe environment and human life and their well-being”.

Judge Collis declared that Creecy had unreasonably delayed preparing and initiating regulations to give effect to the Highveld Priority Area plan in Mpumalanga and Creecy was directed to, within 12 months of the order, prepare, initiate, and prescribe regulations in terms of the Air Quality Act to implement and enforce the Highveld Plan.

The department said leave to appeal is being sought on a limited basis and cognisant of Creecy’s statutory and constitutional duties.

“Minister Creecy states that it is not her intention to use the appeal process to delay the drafting of regulations and that the process will continue independently of any appeal,” the department said.

“The application for leave to appeal is against four orders that are predicated upon an interpretation of Section 20 of the Air Quality Act, which holds that the minister is merely vested with a discretion to prescribe regulations, but is under a duty to do so.

“The affidavit states that the proper interpretation of Section 20 of the Air Quality Act is of wider significance. This is because there are several statutes within the environmental sphere and for which the minister is responsible which contain similarly worded regulation-making powers.

“It is therefore important, beyond this case, to determine whether these powers also entail not merely a discretion, but also a duty.”

Previous articleSnapchat launches sign language lens
Next articleSenzo Meyiwa: Bumpy start to long-awaited trial of five murder accused