n South African Law Journal - From crude environmentalism to sustainable development : : notes

Volume 125, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



Undoubtedly the majority judgment in 2007 (6) SA 4 (CC) represents a crucial milestone in South African environmental law. The highest court dispelled the growing, and legitimate, perception that South African environmental laws, particularly the environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations made under s 24 of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA), are overly informed by an environmentalist paradigm that negates the idea of sustainable development (see Tracy-Lynn Field 'Sustainable development versus environmentalism: Competing paradigms for the South African EIA regime' (2006) 123 409 at 423). This case is the first in which the Constitutional Court considered in detail the nature and scope of the concept of sustainable development. More importantly, it elaborates unequivocally on the nature of the legal obligations of environmental authorities under the EIA regulations. The majority judgment goes further than the High Court decisions that have hitherto confirmed that the EIA process is not only about environmental protection, but also the promotion of socio-economic development.

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