SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES FOR THE GAUTRAIN PROJECT
This project is based on the establishment of a rapid rail link between Tshwane, Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport. The Gautrain Project received a positive Record of Decision (RoD) from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE) on 29 September 2003 and an amended RoD was issued on 25 April 2004.
There are two broad environmental approval components for the Gautrain project. These are environmental assessment and environmental management. Environmental assessment is a process of ensuring that the environmental implications of a proposed activity (in this case a rapid rail link) are identified and assessed so that a decision can be made on the acceptability of the proposed activity. Environmental management is a process of ensuring that mitigation required to prevent or control impacts is properly defined and implemented. Each of these components is further elaborated in the process flow diagram and described in more detail below.
- The Gautrain project was subjected to a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) during 2002-2003 in terms of GN R 1182 and 1183 under the Environment Conservation Act (ECA). The EIA was submitted to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE) for a decision.
- Included in the EIA submission was a Revision 1 Environmental Management Plan (EMP). An authorisation for the proposed project to proceed -a Record of Decision (RoD) – was issued by GDACE on 29 September 2003 and an amended RoD was issued on 25 April 2004. The RoD included a number of conditions including the further development of the Revision 1 EMP.
- The Bombela Consortium was appointed as the preferred bidder in July 2005.
- As the design of the rail system progressed it became evident that a number of minor amendments would be required to the rail reserve, which rail reserve had been defined in the EIA.
- As a result it was necessary to assess these minor amendments in order to apply to GDACE to amend certain conditions of the RoD.
- At about the same time, six variants to the original alignment were proposed, which present a range of benefits over the alignment approved in the RoD. Five of these route variants were proposed by the Bombela Consortium. The final route variant, a modified approach into OR Tambo International Airport, was proposed by the Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works (GDPTRW).
- In similar vein to what was required for the minor amendments, a comparative assessment was conducted on the five proposed variants. The comparative assessment has been based on highlighting the differences in impacts between the RoD alignment and the proposed variants.
- The minor amendments report and the comparative assessment reports on the proposed variants will be submitted to GDACE by GDPTRW in support of applications in terms of Regulation 9(3) of GN R 1183 under the ECA, read with conditions 3.4(a) and 3.4(b) of the RoD for the amendment of relevant conditions of the RoD issued on 25 April 2004. The decision is likely to take the form of amendments to the relevant conditions of the RoD.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PROCESS
- The RoD conditions stipulated the process for the further development of the (Revision 1) EMP submitted with the EIA. This required the formulation of a Revision 2 EMP which contained applicable standards and proposed method statements.
- In addition, GDACE requested that a document listing relevant standards be compiled and submitted to GDACE for their comment. This document was submitted to GDACE in July 2004. GDACE provided comments on these Draft Standards, which comments were taken into account in the formulation of the Revision 2 EMP.
- In formulating the Revision 2 EMP it became clear that it would not be possible to get the EMPs approved in time for scheduled construction start. As a result, an Initial Works EMP was conceptualised and developed, and submitted to GDACE, together with an amendment application, for consideration. The Initial Works EMP governs construction activities that are principally, but not exclusively, site establishment activities.
- The RoD further stipulated that once comments had been received from GDACE on the Revision 2 EMP, that a Draft Final EMP be developed. The Draft Final EMP will then govern design, construction and ultimately operations and maintenance of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link.
- Only once the Draft Final EMP has been approved by GDACE can full-scale construction commence.
- The final step in this process is then to implement the EMP. The EMP contains considerable detail on how implementation will be effected, and what will be done to ensure that the implementation is effective.
- The aim is to ensure that sound environmental management processes are incorporated in day-to-day project construction and operations activities.