Guidelines for Development

The EPCPD has been undertaking open space planning and assessing developments for some 20 years. Using the knowledge gained as a result of these activities, and the increased information and data available on the city’s biodiversity, the EPCPD has developed a set of biodiversity impact assessment guidelines, for use when assessing development applications:

CLICK HERE to access the Development Assessment Guidelines

The Biodiversity Impact Assessment Process

This department offers a free enquiry process that allows members of the public and other government agencies to have their projects screened for issues from a biodiversity perspective.  In the enquiry process, this department will highlight concerns and notify applicants of potential legislative requirements, so that the applicant is able to take environmental requirements into account when preparing the formal application. This department will also alert potential applicants when the proposed development is unlikely to be approved and will provide reasons. 
 
The BIA formal enquiry process begins with the standardised Enquiry Form EPCPD. Enquirers are required to fill out the form and send it through either electronically or in hard copy to the BIA branch. From here the enquiry is logged on to our electronic database and assigned a reference number for tracking purposes. The enquiry is then assigned to an environmental scientist/planner who will then consider the enquiry and begin compiling the information required.
 
A. Development may require additional environmental approvals

Certain activities may require additional approvals from provincial or national government departments.  The two most prevalent pieces of legislation that require such approvals are:

  • The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), administered by the provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA). 
  • The National Water Act (NWA), administered by the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).
The NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations lists a number of activities with certain thresholds that require formal approval, known as an Environmental Authorisation (EA). Obtaining Environmental Authorisation involves the EIA process with assessment of the various impacts of the proposed activity in detail. Some of the most common activities that require EA include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Infilling or excavation within a watercourse, where the volume of material infilled or excavated amounts to more than 10m3 (but note, 5m3 from the seashore, littoral active zone or the sea).
  • Construction of infrastructure of more than 100m2 within 32m of a watercourse, where the development occurs outside of urban areas.
  • Clearing of more than 300m2 of vegetation within an endangered or critically endangered ecosystem.

Likewise, the NWA requires a Water Use Licence Application (WULA) to be followed for certain proposed activities relating to water courses and water resources.  In short, any activity that is likely to significantly affect a watercourse or water resource, either directly or indirectly, will require a water use licence.  Common activities that require a WULA to be followed include, but are not limited to:

  • Development within 500m of a wetland
  • Impeding or altering flows within a watercourse (dams, weirs, and canal)
  • Altering the bed or banks of a watercourse.

Like all legal processes, it is anticipated that the implementation of the NEMA EIA regulations and the NWA may pose a challenge, especially to people not in the Environmental Impact Assessment field. The EPCPD of the eThekwini Municipality are thus available to offer advice free of charge, however bearing in mind that these additional approvals (over and above our municipal D’MOSS requirements) are administered by national and provincial departments that EPCPD has no control over.

B. Our Branch Stucture Affects your Application

The BIA Branch is comprised of two sections, Biodiversity Impact Assessment (Private Developments) and Biodiversity Impact Assessment and Municipal Compliance (Municipal Projects).  

Senior Manager:Manager: Biodiversity Impact Assessment – Chumisa Thengwa
Regional Coordinator (RC): Biodiversity Impact Assessment (Private Developments) – Michelle Lotz (Michelle.Lotz@Durban.gov.za)
Regional Coordinator: Biodiversity Impact Assessment and Municipal Compliance (Municipal Projects) – Sibongile Dlamini (Sibongile.Dlamini2@Durban.gov.za)
 
The process of submitting an environmentally related town planning application, or an environmental enquiry or complaint relating to D'MOSS and/or development is as follows:
Private environmental submissions or enquiries – submit an enquiry on the official enquiry form (hardcopy) or as an email to Thenjiwe Msani (Thenjiwe.Msani@durban.gov.za) (our database administrator) and CC the relevant RC, Michelle Lotz.  We will assign a reference number and allocate an assessing officer to your case.

 Municipal submissions / enquiries – submit on an official enquiry form to Crystal Naidoo (also available in hardcopy) (Crystal.Naidoo@Durban.gov.za) and CC the RC, Sibongile Dlamini. We will assign a reference number and allocate an assessing officer to your case.

All environmental complaints, whether private or public, should be addressed to Sibongile Dlamini (and Thenjiwe Msani).

 Specific timeframes are applicable for specific submissions. The assessing officer is required to carry the case to closure, with oversight from the RC, and only where necessary, the branch manager. All correspondence should thus be addressed to the assessing officer once known, and the RC for completeness (cc-d).
 
The process for submitting an EIA or BAR is as follows:
For private development EIAs & BARs - submit 4 hardcopies and 6 CD copies of each report to Diane VanRensburg, email: Diane.VanRensburg@Durban.gov.za
Deliver to: Room G21, City Engineers Building, 166 K.E. Masinga Road, Durban, 4001, tel: 031 311 7136, for circulation to the relevant Departments for comment. All further correspondence should be sent to Diane for circulation purposes.
 
For municipal development EIAs & BARs – submit 5 hardcopies and 3 CD copies of each report to Crystal Naidoo email: Crystal.Naidoo@Durban.gov.za.
Deliver to: Room 200, City Engineers Building, K.E. Masinga Rd, Durban, 4001, tel: 031 322 4303. All further correspondence should be sent to Crystal for circulation purposes.
 
C. Making an enquiry. 
 
The EPCPD has initiated an enquiry process that enables you to seek early environmental input if you are considering to development your land or planning to purchase land that may be affected by the requirements of D’MOSS, NEMA and / or the NWA. A simple form can be obtained from the EPCPD office (contact 031 311 7471) or downloaded below, which, once completed and returned, allows a desk top evaluation of the site in question. You will on average obtain advice and guidance within 10 working days. This enables you to plan more effectively prior to the submission of a formal development application, and should prevent the wasting of professional fees by reducing referrals.
 

D. Development requires a planning application. Development requires a planning application

Submit the plan to the Regional Planning Department. If the proposed development is adjacent to or within D’MOSS, or any watercourses and the seashore, the EPCPD must also be sent the application to review. This comment will then be sent to the applicant (if changes are required) and then back to the Planning Department for final decision-making. As mentioned earlier it is advisable to follow the enquiry process prior to initiating the formal (planning) application process.

 
When the EPCPD reviews a development application, the following process is followed:
1. GIS Screening
The environmentalist will make use of the Municipal Geographical Information System (GIS) to locate the area in question on aerial photography. The environmentalist will also be able to overlay various data onto the aerial photography using the GIS. This data includes elevation contours, rivers, and D’MOSS, which is a layer that maps potentially sensitive ecosystems and their associated ecological corridors. 
 
2. Site Inspection
A site inspection will be undertaken if the desktop assessment reveals potentially significant biodiversity impacts.  During the site inspection the environmentalist will determine whether or not the D’MOSS layer has correctly captured what is on the ground.
 
3. Report Review
Application reports are reviewed as needed. Additional information may be required in order to assess the application, and this will be requested.
 
4. Comment from EPCPD
Based on the assessment conducted, EPCPD will provide a comment on the proposed development and will then make its recommendations for approval, approval with conditions, or refusal of the application. It must be stressed that the EPCPD is a commenting authority and does not make final decisions on any applications reviewed. Its comments are, however, generally taken into account, and any required conditions imposed by the EPCPD are likely to become conditions of approval.