Title: Minimum Standards for Heritage Specialist Studies in terms of Section 38 (1) and 38(8) National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999
Commencing date: Not yet specified

South Africa’s historical, archaeological and palaeontological heritage resources are unique and non-renewable and are given “general protection” from damage, destruction or alteration in terms of sections 34, 35, 36 of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999 (NHRA). To this end, Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) are required by law and should make provision for the protection of all heritage components including archaeology, shipwrecks and underwater heritage, battlefields, graves, structures over 60 years, living heritage, the collection of oral histories, historical settlements, landscapes, geological sites, and palaeontological sites and objects.

If the scope of a development also triggers the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA), or the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 then a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) must form part of the specialist reports in an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process required in terms of the NEMA and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations, 2014. The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) developed these draft Minimum Standards: Heritage Specialist Studies (Draft Minimum Standards) that will serve as a guideline to assist EAPs in ensuring that all potential impacts on heritage resources will be disclosed to SAHRA.

The new proposed process includes the following:

  • Online submission of the Notice of Intention to Develop (NID) to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) for developments listed in section 38(1) of the NHRA;
  • Online submission of a Letter of Recommendation for Exemption (LoRE) that must include a strong motivation of why the heritage specialist recommends that the development may commence without a field assessment (if applicable);
  • Heritage Scoping Report for full EIA projects;
  • HIA report for EIA projects if Section 38 of the NHRA is triggered. Important to note is that the impact on each identified heritage resource/site, including those located within 500m of the proposed development, will have to be calculated. Public Consultation will have to include a comprehensive presentation of all interaction, including detail on minutes of meetings, media announcements, and correspondence related to comments. Peer Review of archaeological heritage resources will also be required if the resources / research area is not within the specialist’s field of expertise;
  • Application for mitigation permits in terms of sections 34, 35 or 36 of the NHRA; and
  • Conservation management plan (only if required by SAHRA).

Specialist assessment studies in an HIA can include, amongst others, Archaeological Impact Assessments (AIA), Palaeontological Impact Assessment (PIA), Maritime Heritage Impact Assessments (MHIA), Heritage Built Environment Impact Assessment (HBEIA) and Social History Studies. The results of specialist studies conducted as part of the EIA that affects heritage resources must also be included in the HIA.

Comments on the Draft Minimum Standards must be provided on or before 31 October. Comments can be sent to chahndiek@sahra.org.za. Click here to access the Draft Minimum Standards.

So what for my operation?
If your operation is desirous to conduct an activity listed in terms of the Listing Notices of the EIA Regulations, 2014, an environmental authorisation must be obtained by following a Basic Assessment or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. As part of these processes, various specialist studies must be conducted to determine the anticipated environmental impact of the development. One of these specialist studies is a Heritage Impact Assessment and the above mentioned process must then be followed. If it can be proven that the development will not have an impact on heritage resources, a Letter Of Recommendation For Exemption can be submitted to SAHRA in line with the Draft Minimum Standards to support a request for exemption from further heritage studies.

What is Shangoni’s approach?
Shangoni has the expertise and experience to undertake the full spectrum of tasks for the facilitation of the application process for environmental authorisations. This includes the facilitation of all associated specialist studies (including heritage impact assessment studies), the statutory public participation and consultation process and all the required interactions with the regulating authorities. Shangoni’s approach towards environmental authorisation application development also emphasises the management of identified risks, thus adding significant value to the organisation beyond the delivery of required documentation submitted to regulators for approval.