BACK TO THE FUTURE FOR COASTAL MANAGEMENT
NEW COASTAL LAWS EXTEND LIABILITY INTO THE PAST
The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act (NEMLAA) has no doubt brought about significant changes to environmental law in South Africa.
A significant change to the Integrated Coastal Management Act (ICMA) can be found with regard to the repair and removal of structures within the coastal zone.
In terms of s60 of the ICMA the Minister or an MEC may issue a written repair or removal notice to any person responsible for a structure on or within the coastal zone if that structure:
a) has an adverse effect on the coastal environment; or
b) has been erected in contravention of the ICMA
With the new changes brought about by NEMLAA, the environmental authorities now have the power to issue notices to persons, even for structures erected before the ICMA came into existence.
This means that persons responsible for historical structures which have been abandoned within the coastal zone and posing an adverse impact on the coast or which have been erected in contravention of the Act, can still be issued repair and removal notices, irrespective of when the structures were erected.
The Act now has retrospective application and persons who were previously exempted from the Act can now be instructed to remove and repair the structures to the satisfaction of the authorities.
Failure to comply with a removal and repair notice is a criminal offence and the penalties on conviction include imprisonment for a period up to 5 years, R2 million, community service, or both a fine and imprisonment or community service.