3 in the management of the environment law is central

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3. In the management of the environment, law is central Notwithstanding the problem of determining the ‘‘exact scope and definition of environmental law’’ (the topic of the next study unit), 5
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environmental law is the principal tool with which to manage the environment. To a certain extent, this certainty ‘‘merely reflects the regrouping or re-categorization of matters that have always been there’’ (ibid). An example would be the use of ‘‘nuisance control’’, well-known in private law, in combating noise pollution. 4. The immensity and complexity of environmental laws Over and above the recognition of an environmental right (s 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996), the South African Parliament adopted a number of Acts, varying in complexity and geared towards the protection and management of the environment, for example the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA) and the so-called sectoral environmental management Acts (SEMAs), such as the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004. (You will learn more about these SEMAs in the final postscript to this study guide.) Apart from national legislation, the nine provinces are also empowered to pass legislation dealing with environmental protection. While policy guidelines are, strictly speaking, not laws, they are issued by the state department that deals with environmental matters and contribute to the number of rules and regulations for managing the environment. (We will elaborate on this matter in the study unit dealing with constitutional law and the environment.) 5. More frequent use of the law in environmental disputes According to the authors, the public increasingly views the results of ‘‘’environmental’ decisions as unsatisfactory’’. Put differently, there is a general perception that the policies and procedures used by decision makers are ‘‘failing the public and the environment’’ (ibid). This has led to the increasing use of law by environmental groups as ‘‘an alternative to direct action’’ (ibid). Law has also been used by local residents to put pressure on the planning system to protect their own personal and property interests against ‘‘unwelcome developments’’ (ibid). This observation is also true of the situation in South Africa, if you consider how often ratepayers approach the courts regarding environmentally unsound developments in their suburbs or communities. 1.3 The meaning of the term ‘‘environment’’ Activity 2 List a few items that you think are included in the term ‘‘environment’’ and indicate who (either persons or bodies/ institutions) you would recommend to assist with the protection, conservation and/or management of the environment.

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