Strategic Environmental Assessment

The Department of Environmental Affairs in partnership with Department of Science and Technology have commissioned the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for SKA Phase 1 South Africa in the Karoo Central Astronomy Advantage Area. You are invited to register on the SEA interested and affected parties (I&AP) database and provide inputs into the SEA process.

Introduction and background

The MeerKAT and SKA projects are part of the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) programme under the National Development Plan (2012). The National Development Plan is intended to transform the economic landscape in the country, create a significant number of new jobs, strengthen the delivery of basic services and support the integration of African economies.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has committed to contribute to the implementation of the National Development Plan by undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) to integrate the regulatory environmental requirements for the SIPs while safeguarding the environment. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was appointed to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the SKA Phase 1 in South Africa.

The mission statement of the SEA is:
“to provide a platform to coordinate research and data collection within the SKA Phase 1 study area and integrate the environmental authorisation process ensuring that environmental factors are adequately considered and environmental principles implemented at the strategic planning stage”.

What is a SEA?

As defined by Sadler and Verheem (1996), the SEA is “a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policy, plan or programme initiatives in order to ensure they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest appropriate stage of decision making on par with economic and social considerations.”

In South Africa, SEAs are undertaken to evaluate the opportunities and constraints of large scale strategic developments at the regional and national scales. To date, three SEAs have been commissioned in support of the SIPs: the Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs) SEA in support of SIP 8, the Electricity Grid Infrastructure (EGI) SEA in support of SIP 10 and the SKA Phase 1 South Africa SEA in support of SIP 16.

The ultimate goal of a strategic environmental assessment is to define a sustainable development process which will meet the necessary human development goals while maintaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend.

Study area

The study area of the SEA consists of a core area and three spiral arms. The core area (red outline on the map below) consists of 38 farms. The three spiral arms (blue outline on the map below) consist of 131 land parcels.

Environmental, social and economic aspects

The strategic issues to be assessed during the SEA include biophysical, social and economic risks and opportunities of the SKA Phase 1 infrastructure and activities in South Africa.

Stakeholder engagement

The SEA stakeholder engagement will focus on exchange of local knowledge in the SEA study area and the review of the draft Integrated Management Plan which will be generated during the SEA for the SKA Phase 1 South Africa.

Reports