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SA’s National Environmental Laws Amendment Act (NEMLA) has been Signed into Law

The final signing into law of the NEMLA Act has introduced a major shift in South Africa’s environmental legislation from 24 June 2022 and will deter non-compliance with environmental laws. This law started out as the National Environmental Laws Amendment Bill, known as ‘the NEMLA Bill’ or ‘NEMLAA4’ when it was introduced to Parliament in 2017. More than 5 years on, this Bill has finally ended its arduous parliamentary journey, which involved much debate and numerous changes following its rejection by the National Assembly in 2018, and its lapsing and subsequent revival in 2019. Despite being passed by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in March 2022, it took almost 4 months for the Bill to be signed into law.

From 24 June 2022, the Act has officially introduced a wholesale shift in South Africa’s environmental legislative landscape. Many of these changes were intended to clean up a range of issues associated with the roll-out of the OES – which overhauled the way environmental issues are regulated on mine sites, among other things. Overall, the changes imposed by the Act aim to deter non-compliance with environmental laws by, among other things, introducing new offences, increasing the quantum of fines and administrative penalties where laws or licenses have been contravened, and extending enforcement powers to enable more widespread enforcement of environmental laws.

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