Monday, December 8, 2008

Minister Pierre Uys re-launches the Palmiet Hiking Trail

Minister Pierre Uys (cutting the ribbon with the scissors) re-launched the Palmiet Hiking Trail in the Overberg during the week ahead of the celebrations on Saturday (6 December 2008) of the International Day of Disabled Persons. This trail is suitable to be utilised by sight impaired people and has now been upgraded and made more accessible also for a wider range of other people with disabilities. On the left is Ms. Lucille Meyer, CEO of CapeNature, together with representatives of the Western Cape Network on Disability. Ms. Lynne Brown, Western Cape premier, also addressed attendees at the re-launch.
Photo: Christopher Daniels

Monday, December 1, 2008

UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań, Poland, begins today and will continue until 12 December.

The Official UNFCCC site is here.

There is a Facebook Group specifically for COP 14 - search Facebook Groups for "UN Climate Talks - COP 14"

UNFCCC COP 14 website >>>

UNFCCC Video channel >>>

Climate Change TV >>>

A link will be added each day to the IISD Reporting Services Earth Negations Bulletin daily summary for your convenience:

01-12-2008 Day 1;
02-12-2008 Day 2;
03-12-2008 Day 3;
04-12-2008 Day 4;
05-12-2008 Day 5;
06-12-2008 Day 6;
07-12-2008 Day 7;
08-12-2008 Day 8;
09-12-2008 Day 9;
10-12-2008 Day 10;
11-12-2008 Day 11;
12-12-2008 Day 12;

You can also download pdf or html versions of the reports daily here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Western Cape Cleanest Town Competition - 2008


Minister Pierre Uys, Western Cape minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has announced the winners of the 2008 Western Cape Cleanest Town Competition.

The Breede River/Winelands local municipality (consisting of Robertson, Ashton, Montague, Bonnievale and McGregor) were awarded with the top prize at the ceremony.

Swartland municipality, the 2006 and 2007 winner, is this year's runner-up, with Overstrand municipality the second runner-up.

Stellenbosch municipality received the award as the Most Improved Municipality.

All winners received a cash prize to be used on integrated waste management.

This year a special focus of the competition was to recognize the role of district municipalities. The Eden District municipality received an award for the most supportive district. Their proactive and innovative approach to tackling waste management challenges included the establishment of a Regional Waste Forum, financed and drove the process for the development of Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMPs) for all municipalities in the district. The municipality developed a Master plan that included planning around regional landfill sites. The district plays a very active role in driving the Waste Management in Education programme developed by the province.

The theme of the award ceremony focused on resource efficiency of municipalities with the aim of being 2wise2waste (a waste management programme by the Provincial Government) and bringing our attention to the impact of human activities on our planet and in particular on how we can reduce our impacts now, in order to preserve our planet for future generations.

Minister Uys says: "The objective of the competition is to create awareness around waste management and to encourage creative solutions to the complex problems facing municipalities. It further aims to regain pride amongst communities, and to enhance community involvement in
integrated waste management practices. It is also envisaged that IWMP receives adequate attention in Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) to ensure that waste management is prioritized and adequate budgets are located to develop the required infrastructure."

The Provincial winners will take part in the national leg of the competition. The City of Cape Town is automatically entered into the national competition as it is the only metropolitan council in the province.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144



The Cleanest Town Competition (CTC) is a national competition that has been running since 2001. The CTC is managed by the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and administered by the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). In the provincial leg, competing local municipalities are evaluated by a panel of officials from various departments. The panel visit towns in local municipalities and evaluate according to the following criteria:

* The physical condition and general cleanliness of the town counts for 40%. Evaluation comprises an unannounced visit to a local municipality. Here the cleanliness of town centres, low income residential areas, commercial and industrial areas, tourist attractions and public facilities e.g. schools, taxi ranks, waste disposal sites etc. are assessed. The condition of townships and informal settlements, with regard to Integrated Waste Management also forms an important part of the evaluation.

* The support systems and municipal waste management initiatives counts for 60%. For this section the panel refers to documents such as the municipality's IWMP, studies undertaken by DEADP and interviews with members of the community. Special focus is given to waste minimisation programmes, community mobilisation and public participation in environmental issues, as well as budgetary and personnel support, enforcement, compliance and implementation of IWMPs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

GIS helps to solve real problems


GIS helps to solve real problems, says Minister

Without knowing it, the latest technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is almost daily making the lives of people and communities easier, says Pierre Uys, estern Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Minister Uys opened a special Western Cape GIS Day of exciting interactivity for senior learners in Oudtshoorn on 31 October 2008. It was organised for the tenth annual celebration of the global GIS Day and the first one of its kind in the Klein Karoo area.

Minister Uys (right) with Lehan Fouche, the Deputy Director: Information Systems

Minister Uys says, "This important technology makes significant contributions and touches our daily lives without us being aware of it. It helps to solve problems related to the environment, health care, land use, business efficiency, education, general service delivery, public safety and planning."

"With it, one can plan to direct power supply to homes, assist emergency services, is essential in disaster management, use resources optimally and even run a huge election, like we will have next year."

"This extraordinary technology makes work easier for health workers, security agents, government employees like investigators, city planners, environmental impact administrators and people in nearly every profession. Analysts and developers use it extensively to make informed decisions, like where to locate automated teller machines more conveniently for banks, restaurants or even for farmers on how to use their land optimally with less chemicals", said Minister Uys.

GIS is an innovative information system, also displaying geographic feature and gathered information like location, streets, buildings, water features and terrain. It combines information from maps, photographs and computers to bring countless benefits to society. It is used widely by provincial and local government to co-operate in spatial planning and environmental control.

Learners and community leaders of the Klein Karoo could see GIS application in action at government level and the services it brings to people with live demonstrations, a map gallery and educational videos as well as presentations to showcase this phenomenal field of science.

Besides the celebrations, the learners could also consider GIS as a career opportunity. From next year GIS will be part of the matric curriculum.

The day was organised by the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The theme was: "Exploring My Community Through GIS."

Internationally GIS Day is celebrated on 19 November each year. This event was held earlier out of consideration to learners preparing for the upcoming school examinations.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Monday, October 20, 2008

Air quality monitored closer


16 October 2008

Air quality monitored closer, Minister says

New steps to improve the quality of air in the province are being put
in place by the Western Cape Provincial Government.

Minister Pierre Uys, provincial minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has today launched a special station in Vredenburg to continuously and scientifically monitor the quality of ambient air in the Saldanha Bay area for a full year. The data will be used to better understand air quality in the area.

Minister Pierre Uys (centre) with Hans Linde, Deputy Director: Air Quality Management, and Gottlieb Arendse, Director: Pollution and Waste Management

This is one of three stations the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has bought to monitor the quality of air and check on specific pollutants over the next five years in strategically identified areas with municipalities.

The roll-out of the air quality management system is an initiative of the Western Cape Government in the interest of the environment and health. The station monitors the critical gaseous pollutants, particulate matter and relevant meteorological data.

The decision to locate the station here was jointly taken between thelocal and provincial authorities due to perceptions of the air in the West Coast district and in particular the Saldanha Bay area. In cooperation with the West Coast District Municipality, this monitoring station has been located at the Hoërskool Vredenburg (high school).

This unit now forms part of the provincial monitoring system with stations also in Paarl and in Mossel Bay. Over the next five years the stations will be relocated to other points every year.

Minister Uys says: "Every person has a right to clean air and with the launching of this station the Provincial Government is striving to better understand the quality of the air and reinforces its commitment and obligations with respect to the air quality management across the province."

"The Saldanha Bay and West Coast District Municipal area is a development node. It is therefore important that we as authorities, together with the industries, accept our responsibilities with respect to air quality. We look forward to sharing the information with each other and collectively come to a better understanding of the air quality in this particular area."

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) +27 73 133 7299
Minister Uys +27 82 4555 144


To fulfill the Provincial Government's obligation in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, the Province has purchased the necessary equipment to set up three (3) fully equipped continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations. To assist with the evaluation of air quality, these monitors will be strategically deployed across the Province on rotational basis over a five (5) year period. Each station will be located at a selected site for a one-year period to ensure that all the seasons are covered.

On 11 September 2007, DEAT published the National Framework for Air Quality Management for the Republic of South Africa. Importantly, this Framework includes a table to guide the Municipalities with respect to the quality of ambient air within their areas of jurisdiction. The said framework rates the air quality in the West Coast District Municipality, City of Cape Town and the Winelands District Municipality areas as POOR and the Eden District Municipality as POTENTIALLY POOR.

The monitoring station is comprised of an air-conditioned housing unit mounted on a chassis with wheels to be transportable. The unit is equipped with continuous analyzers for the monitoring of the critical pollutants, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Ozone (O3) and Particulate Matter (PM10). Importantly, the unit is complimented with a 9-metre high mask with a full range of instruments to monitor meteorological parameters, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity.

The monitors will be regularly calibrated and will be operated according to laid down accredited procedures. This all makes for a sound air quality monitoring program of the so-called critical pollutants and with the necessary additional weather data capturing system this will ensure scientific analysis of information that is recorded.

The monitoring of air quality over a period will place the Province in the position to assist the municipalities with evaluating the state of the environment with respect to air quality and to build its capacity in ambient air quality monitoring. This monitoring station will contribute and augment the monitoring systems currently in operation by the private sector and other monitoring programmes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prepare for climate change

Prepare for climate change, Minister urges

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has launched a special curriculum tool for teachers to assist them in dealing with climate change.

The training of a core group of teachers from across the province on the Climate Change Education and Awareness Programme started today at the Northlink College in Panorama, Cape Town, and will continue until Saturday. The programme and a teacher*s resource book were developed by the University of Cape Town*s Schools Development Unit.

Minister Uys (second from left, second row from front) with Western Cape Teachers that attended the programme

Climate change and environmental issues will form part of the school curriculum from next year and this pilot project by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning were undertaken to help teachers deal with the issues around climate change and awareness.

Minister Uys opened the three day workshop this morning.

"There is overwhelming consensus amongst experts that climate change has been accelerated through human endeavour and that extraordinary preparations are needed to ward off serious consequences. It is for this reason we have decided as Government to train and prepare our people for life style changes to mitigate matters like global warming and dependence on fossil fuel that is a key cause of the emission of greenhouse gasses", Minister Uys said.

"Even with the significant reduction of these gasses, there will still be changes to the climate."

"That this why emissions need to be contained or reduced. It is projected that temperature or extreme weather conditions, water shortages, more fires and adverse agricultural conditions will be some of the challenges we will face in the future. Therefore we start this seeding project in line with national and provincial policies to prepare our future citizens and leaders for the task at hand", Minister Uys said.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Make coast safer for whales and all life

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, has called on all people to assist in the battle to keep the water off our coast free from plastic debris that harm all kinds of marine life, including the gentle giants of the deep, whales.

Minister Uys's plea coincides with the highlight of the whale season and the annual Whale Festival in Hermanus as well as the coastal and marine programmes of his department.

Too many whales are still getting caught up in all kinds of debris along our coast line. Some animals also die because they may digest drifting plastic as it may be seen as food. All efforts should be made to make our coast safer for our visiting whale friends and all other life forms.

A perpetual problem with undesirable debris exists. Many of our people's daily activities, from not properly disposing of garbage or even littering, can impact on the plants and animals along our shores.

"The debris, like scattered fragments, packaging material, crayfish traps, broken nets, ropes or lines and drift wreckages, consist mainly of plastic that can harm or kill organisms. Solving our water pollution requires everyone's involvement," Minister Uys said.
The Coastal Management team of the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in partnership with District Municipalities last week was involved with beach clean-ups (15 to 19 September 2008).

Various schools and learners helped cleaning up polluted areas along the extensive Cape coast line in order to increase public awareness and appreciation of the coastal environment.

"My Government and I thank every citizen and volunteer who help unselfishly to make our coast a safer area for all to use," Minister Uys said.

Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

National Arbor Week Celebrations at Melton Primary School


Immediate release 5 September 2008

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning addressing pupils and teachers at Melton Primary School.

National Arbor Week Celebrations at Melton Primary School in Klein Vlei, Eerste River, on Friday 5 September 2008

Minister Pierre Uys, minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, joined learners in greening their urban area during a special tree planting celebration at the Melton Primary School in Eerste River this morning.

This school undertakes a number of community and environmental activities through an active Eco-Club and assistance of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi).

The learners and teachers maintain an indigenous- and a food garden that provides fresh vegetables for the school and community.

The tree planting ceremony was also in anticipation of International Arbor Day on Sunday 7 September.

“Trees were planted as part of this annual celebration to observe the future of our planet and to offset the emission of carbon and global warming. All are encouraged to care for trees as a renewable resource, about conservation and the environment.

“Trees give us oxygen, water vapour, food, shelter, wood and over 5 000 products. Without trees we will not survive. Especially in many disadvantaged communities, who often live in barren areas, we need to plant more trees,” Min. Uys said.
Minister Uys planted a scarce Wild Plum, which is one of this year’s three specimens of the Tree of the Year.


Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Minister Pierre Uys and Ms Averyle Temmit, the school principal, plant a wild plum, which is tree of the year 2008, in the school's indigenous garden

Minister Uys and Ms Temmit examining the school's wonderful greening programme co-ordinated by teacher Hadley Linus, centre.
Acting Head of Department, Mr Rudi Ellis, extreme right

Minister Uys donated vegetable seed to the school for the food garden, (these include packets of seed for carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach and green beans)

International Coastal Cleanup Week targets undesirable debris


Immediate release 13 September 2008

International Coastal Cleanup Week targets undesirable debris

Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Pierre Uys thanks all the community and school volunteers who will assist during the coming week to clear undesirable debris from the Western Cape coastline.

The Coastal Management team of the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in partnership with District Municipalities initiated beach cleanups for the week of 15 to 19 September 2008.

Various schools and learners will take part in the annual activities to cleanup beaches with the aim to identify the different types of pollution and compile data to devise strategies to combat pollution. Many of the volunteers come from disadvantaged and marginalised areas.They are involved in the activities to increase public participation in solving the problem of pollution, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the coastal environment.

A perpetual problem with undesirable debris exists on our beaches along our coastline. Many of our people are unaware how their daily activities, from not properly disposing of their garbage or even throwing a cigarette butt on the ground, can impact on the plants and animals off our shores. This debris can harm or kill beach organisms. Marine pollution also makes using the beach less enjoyable for people. Solving our water pollution that washes to the sea requires everyone's involvement, Minister Uys said.

The programmevaries from area to area but provides for a talk on keeping the coast clean. This is followed by collecting refuse like plastic and broken glass on the beaches and fun activities (like sand castle building and beach races).

Local schools will assist in: Olifants River Mouth to Strandfontein, Elands Bay, Dwarskersbos, Jacobs Bay, Yzerfontein, Overberg Testing Range (Aghulhas), De Hoop, Struis Bay, Waenhuiskrans, Bigai River, Wilderness and Kleinkrantz, Briekelbos River, Swartvlei Beach to Sedgefield, Still Bay, Knysna Lagoon, Khayalethu River, Grobbelaars River, Springer Bay to Boggoms Bay, Vlees Bay to Kanon, Cape Vacca to Kanon and Vlees Bay to Boggoms Bay (Fransmanhoek Conservancy).


Enquiries: Cobus Grobler (media officer) 073 133 7299
Minister Uys 082 4555 144

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Minister Uys suceeds Minister Essop

In July 2008 Minister Tasneem Essop resigned and was succeeded by Minister Pierre Uys.
The Department would like to thank Minister Essop for her dynamic leadership over the past four years and welcomes Minister Uys to his new role

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tell Tasneem Your Tip!


As many of you in the Western Cape would know the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) has spearheaded energy efficiency and savings. In 2006 the Western Cape was subject to serious load shedding and we called on stakeholders to join us and manage the shortages. We established the Energy Risk Management Committee (ERMC) and this year, once again, we have been called upon to re-activate it.

The ERMC is currently forming a demand-side management plan, has developed equitable and reliable load shedding schedules and will also investigate the uptake of renewable energies for both energy efficiency and generation. As mentioned by Premier Ebrahim Rasool, in his State of the Province address the Western Cape aims to save 500 MW of electricty each day as part of our contribution to the national effort!

One of my staffers was telling me that he is also trying to help by turning off his geyser each morning. However, he said that he kept forgeting to turn it on each evening after work and subsequently has had to deal with cold water.

His idea to mitigate this matter was to print a sign saying 'Geyser On' and 'Geyser Off' on the backside. This sign hangs over his switchboard and every evening when he comes home the sign catches his attention and he is remiinded to turn on his geyser.

This made me think about how important it is for each citizen in our province to also make their individual contributions. I am sure that there are many brilliant ideas on how to save electricty out there so we decided to start the 'Tell Tasneem Your Tip campaign' on my blog.

It would be fantastic if you had ideas and would enter them on this blog so we can keep a record of all of your efforts.



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Western Cape Energy Committee is re-activated

Last night, Tasneem Essop, the Western Cape MEC for Environment, Planning and Economic Development, announced that the provincial Energy Risk Management Committee (ERMC), which was started by Premier Ebrahim Rasool in 2006, had been re-activated after a broad range of stakeholders agreed that the province needed a predictable and reliable management and information plan to help citizens prepare for electricity load shedding and that a demand side management programme was crucial to ensuring electricity savings in the province.

Essop said that it was clear from the Eskom briefing to the ERMC, that the energy situation was very different to the previous situation two years ago as it had now become a national issue and was no longer a localised Western Cape problem. She said that regardless of these new conditions, the Western Cape would have to contribute to helping find solutions to the problem and again ensure electricity savings as we successfully did two years ago.

‘The discussion last night was robust and our critical stakeholders expressed very strong opinions about the load shedding but I was deeply impressed by their renewed commitment to see the ERMC up and running again, their very strong spirit of consensus and a belief in our provincial model. The ERMC is a focused leadership collective of which we should all be very proud!’ said Essop.

The ERMC has mandated its sub-committee, the Provincial Monitoring Team (PMT), to work with Eskom provincial management and the City of Cape Town to devise integrated load shedding timetables, a demand-side management plan and a communication plan which will be tabled for comment by the various stakeholders at their next meeting in the first week of February.

The Renewable Energy Task Team, consisting of officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), the City of Cape Town, Eskom and civil society was also tasked with preparing a report aimed at incorporating the provision of renewable energy sources, as part of the overall strategy to deal with medium to long term problems which would result from increasing demand outstripping supply.

Essop said that her department had made significant progress in developing a renewable energy plan for the province and that the challenge now was to make sure ‘that renewable energy products, such as solar water heaters, move out of a business plan phase and into our homes and factories as not only are they are very effective demand-side management tools but they also create exciting new investment opportunities.’

She said that the most important task of the ERMC was to devise a strong communication plan which would help citizens of the Western Cape access reliable and predictable information on load shedding and practical ways of saving electricity.

‘If we are expected to pull together and work through these difficult times then we must at least help our citizens get an honest and clear picture of what is required and how every individual can contribute to energy savings.’

Two organisations from labour and civil society said that they would need to consult amongst their membership and hoped to return with a mandate to participate at the next meeting in February.


Issued by:
Minister Tasneem Essop
Environment, Planning and Economic Development

For further information contact:
Nils Flaatten
Ministerial Spokesperson
Ministry of Environment, Planning and Economic Development
083 708 7119

Ikhaya Lethu Sonke – A Home for All – ‘n Tuiste vir Almal

Green Scorpions tackle water pollution

Western Cape MEC for Environment, Planning and Economic Development, Tasneem Essop, said that this week she had instructed the ‘Green Scorpions’, or Environmental Management Inspectors, to investigate the illegal dumping of waste and pollution in the Klein Vlei and Bokmakierie canals, after she had noticed an increased build up of waste materials as she drove past these canals.

The ‘Green Scorpions’, who have also received complaints from members of the public and residents about the polluted rivers, conduct their site inspections along the section of Jan Smuts Drive which runs up until the corner of Klipfontien Road (and is adjacent to the Bokmakierie residential area) as well as a second site running from the N2, along the Baden Powell Drive towards Stellenbosch and found large amounts of domestic waste, used tyres (in and alongside both canals) and effluent flowing into the canals.

They have now issued a notification of intention to issue a directive against the City of Cape Town for failing in their duty to prevent the illegal dumping of waste and pollution in the Klein Vlei and Bokmakierie canals.

The notification which was issued in terms of Section 28(4) of the National Environmental Management Act was sent to the City Manager, Achmat Ebrahim, and compels the City of Cape Town to conduct a thorough clean-up of the two areas within 10 working days.

‘We seriously need to start taking care of our rivers. For far too long citizens of our province have abused these water-ways and become immune to the unsightly state of our rivers, not to mention the serious health hazards that local residents are exposed to, such as those in Bokmakierie. These rivers form a critical part of our eco-systems and I can not believe that we allow people to break the law, dump their waste and leave the most vulnerable of our people to live in these horrible conditions. I am very concerned that we still have not learnt that waste materials are guaranteed to clog up our stormwater drainage systems when the winter rains come. Everyone knows that this will lead to unnecessary flooding and will cost the taxpayer money to fix the problem. We must learn to take better care of our environment and use proper preventative measures. Hence the City of Cape Town, which has a duty of care towards the environment, must not only comply with this notice but they must also empower the local community as part of their preventative approach to waste management.’

‘We want them to take measures to prevent this from happening again but most importantly, we want them to proactively work with local communities and run educational workshops to help create a new paradigm towards waste management and the protection of our environment. Communities also need to take ownership and pride in these water-ways and must help prevent future pollution. I have warned municipalities, during the Cleanest Town Competition that I will adopt a zero tolerance approach to pollution and polluters should see this as a serious warning. The Green Scorpions will not hesitate to take similar action in the future’, said Essop

Failure to comply with the notification of intention to issue a directive could see the ‘Green Scorpions’ issuing a directive against the City of Cape Town which has serious consequences.


Issued by:
Minister Tasneem Essop
Environment, Planning and Economic Development

For further information contact:
Nils Flaatten
Media and Strategic Policy Manager
Ministry of Environment, Planning and Economic Development
083 708 7119

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wetlands Forum Blog

The Department has assisted the Wetlands Forum set up a blog to keep all local 'wetlanders' in touch with issues of interest to the Western and Southern Cape Wetlands Forums.

The blog contains links to numerous key local and international web resources.

World Wetlands Day (February 2) has recently been celebrated and the blog is a veritable treasure trove of information about local wetland conservation initiatives.

The Wetlands Forum Blog as accessible at