WINDHOEK- Demand for environmental clearance certificates continued to increase during the 2017/18 financial year, with a total of 655 applications for clearance received, compared to 578 applications in 2016/17.
This represents a 13 percent annual increase.
The majority of applications received were for infrastructure developments and mining activities.
A report on the implementation of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 during the 2017/18 financial year which was tabled by Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta last week in the National Assembly revealed this.
The report shows a breakdown of applications for environmental clearance received during 2017/18 and a total 303 are for infrastructure purposes and 160 are meant for mining activities.
About 71 of the applications are for hazardous activities, 45 are for rezoning, 26 for tourism, while waste and sand mining each received 14 applications.
Others include forestry which received three applications while cemeteries got one application for environmental clearance during 2017/18. The report further indicates that a total of 184 applications for environmental clearance from government offices, ministries and agencies were recorded in 2017/18 compared to 183 applications in 2016/17.
The majority of these were submitted by Namwater, Nampower and various municipalities.
However, the report shows that there are still government offices, ministries and agencies not in compliance with the Act in terms of applying for environmental clearance certificates for listed activities, particularly with regard to resource removal, including natural living resources, as per section 27 (2) (c).
The report cited few applications for environmental clearance certificates were received from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Ministry of Works and Transport and the Fisheries and Marine Resources.
The report states that in order to service the increasing demand for environmental clearance certificates in a more efficient manner, the development of an online application system was recommended during the period under review.
“The online system allows authorised administrators to review online applications, track status of applications, access current or old certificates, as well as create view reporting information on numbers of issued certificates and applications received,” the report reads.
Equally, it is envisaged that the system will be more rigorous, efficient, transparent and client-friendly than the existing manual system.
The online system was developed and initially piloted on the server of the Office of the Prime Minister but it was requested that the ministry hosts the system on its own server.
A server was subsequently procured for this purpose and the system will be launched in the 2018/19 financial year. Staff were trained on the system and a training manual was produced to support staff in the operationalisation of the system.
Th report states approximately 82 sites were inspected during the period under review, mainly in the Erongo, Hardap, Kavango East, //Kharas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Zambezi regions.
Furthermore, it shows that these covered a wide range of sites including waste disposal sites, mines, sand-mining operations, clinics, hospitals, tourism operations, schools and hostels.
A total of 24 compliance orders and notifications were issued during the 2017/18 financial year.