Environmental clearance now online

The environment ministry has made it easier to apply for the clearance certificates required for certain types of developments.

28 October 2019 | Environment

In order to improve the environmental clearance process the environment ministry has implemented an on-line application system.

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says the ministry continues to receive increasing volumes of applications for environmental clearance.

A total of 853 applications were received in the 2018/19 financial year, representing a 30% increase on the applications received in 2017/18.

“In order to better service the increasing demand for environmental clearance certificates in a more efficient manner, the ministry developed and is now implementing the online application system,” Shifeta said.

Speaking at the launch of the online system, Shifeta explained that the need to apply for environmental clearance is mandated by the Environmental Management Act, which provides a list of activities that may not be undertaken without an environmental clearance certificate.

This list covers a range of developmental activities that are likely to have significant impacts on the environment such as mining, quarrying, infrastructural developments, removal of living natural resources and waste management. According to Shifeta the processing of applications for environmental clearance is one of the key functions of the ministry and is done by the office of the environmental commissioner.

“As one of the ten offices, ministries and agencies that were identified in the E-Government Strategic Action Plan for the Public Service to undergo e-government transformation during 2014-2018, this is one of the key functions of the ministry to go electronic.”

He said the online system would prove to be more rigorous, transparent and client-friendly than the existing manual system.

According to him, it further enhances accessibility, as it allows people from outside Windhoek to submit their applications online and track progress online rather than having to travel to Windhoek.

“As a ministry, we are extremely conscious of the need to act quickly and not to delay projects that are critical for the development of this country. I am confident that this system will assist the office of the environmental commissioner to process applications more quickly,” the minister said.

Shifeta advised applicants to familiarise themselves with the system and to submit required documents on time to avoid unnecessary delays.

He said apart from making it easier to apply for, transfer and renew environmental clearance certificates, the system would strengthen public engagement in the environmental assessment process.

He said the third principle of environmental management in terms of the Environmental Management Act states that the participation of all interested and affected parties must be promoted and decisions must take into account the interest, needs and values of interested and affected parties.

“This system allows for interested and affected parties to provide comments on environmental impact assessments and related documents and offers the opportunity for members of the general public to report concerns and potential cases of non-compliance with the Act.”

Shifeta in conclusion thanked the Office of the Prime Minister and the information ministry for their support for the planning, design and implementation of this online system and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) for technical support and hardware.

“Applying for environmental clearance can be a complicated process requiring interaction with a diverse range of stakeholders and authorities.

I therefore thank you for your support to this process and for assisting us to put in place a system that is working well and making life easier for both our clients and staff.”

The new online system is available at www.eia.met.gov.na

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