National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004

Last updated: 12 May 2021

This act regulates air quality and provides measures for the prevention of pollution and ecological degradation. It further aims to provide for national norms and standards regulating air quality monitoring, management and control by all spheres of government; for specific air quality measures; and related matters.


Section 12 provides for air quality monitoring and emission measurements.


Section 17 outlines requirements for reporting the implementation of air quality management plans. Accordingly, every organ of state must submit an annual report containing information on the implementation of its air quality management plan.


Section 21 refers to activities that result in atmospheric emissions with significant impacts. A list detailing related activities shall be published, including minimum emission standards in respect of air polluting substances. These will outline permissible emissions volumes, rates or concentrations as well as measurement procedures. For such activities, an atmospheric emission licence is required before commencement of operations.


The act establishes the procedure for the application for and issuance of atmospheric emission licences. The licence will specify maximum allowed volume, emission rate or concentration of pollutants that may be discharged in the atmosphere; other operating requirements relating to atmospheric discharges, or fugitive emissions; measurement and reporting requirements for point source emission, on-site ambient air quality, and greenhouse gas emission measurement and reporting requirements.


Section 23 refers to controlled emitters and pertaining emission standards.


Section 26 refers to controlled fuels and related requirements for commercialisation and use.


Section 29 indicates that the authorities may declare substances contributing to air pollution as a priority air pollutant; and require persons falling within specified categories to prepare and submit related pollution prevention plans.


Section 63 establishes ambient air quality standards.


Other provisions relate to the provisional licences, transfer and renewal or change of licences; transboundary air pollution; as well as offences and penalties.

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