The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has welcomed the adoption of the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) for Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa.
Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane gazetted the IEMP on Friday.
“The department is very pleased with the conclusion of this process that has granted the environmental license for the construction of the SKA Phase 1 to proceed in the Northern Cape,” said the DST’s Acting Chief Director for Astronomy, Takalani Nemaungani, on Monday.
The process, which was led by the Department of Environmental Affairs with the support of the DST and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, involved comprehensive consultation with communities from the towns surrounding the SKA site in the Northern Cape.
The IEMP covers the environmental principles to be followed in the construction and operation of SKA Phase 1, the environmental monitoring and control activities to be undertaken, as well as the long-term research monitoring programmes to be implemented at the SKA site.
These include the impacts that the construction and operation of SKA Phase 1 might have on local agriculture, heritage, terrestrial ecology and biodiversity, as well as local socio-economic aspects.
Further aspects of sensitivity in terms of aviation, defence, telecommunications, weather services, mining, water use, waste management, noise and traffic effects were also investigated in consultation with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.
This is the first time that an environmental instrument of this kind has been adopted at national level in South Africa.