The SANRAL approach to environmental management is an integral feature of the agency’s established record of corporate citizenship. SANRAL’s environmental performance is also a key channel to communicate the agency’s implementation of industry best practice and voluntary codes of conduct. The SANRAL’s approach to environmental management is based on our commitment to enhancing eco-efficiency and identifying and managing or eliminating environmental risks. We strive to adopt the best practicable environmental management options in our operations, or to identify feasible alternatives. In doing so, we are committed to try to strike a balance between managing environmental impacts, and promoting the well-being and empowerment of host communities. The outcomes of our environmental reports (scoping as well as environmental management plans) are used for ongoing monitoring of impacts as well as, as a point of departure, for further serving the needs of the host community through local initiatives such as road safety awareness training and environmental awareness programmes. SANRAL is also committed to rehabilitating and returning our areas of operation, to their sustainable pre-operational state, so that they may still be viable for the use of future generations. We envisage these goals to be in support of the sustainability aims of respecting and maintaining natural capital and building human capital.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
Managing the Management System The SANRAL EMS forms the framework the implementation of the environmental policies and ongoing stewardship of resources, through the management of the proprietary environmental management system. All aspects of sustainable development are addressed at corporate level, the objectives of which are realized by a commitment to strive toward continual improvement and compliance with legal requirements. We are committed to update the legal register (which will be continually updated and integrated with the aspects register). As such, in light of the recent amendments to the applicable implementing legislation (NEMA EIA regulations and the MPRDA), the SANRAL EMS documentation will be reviewed and revised accordingly. The EMS is based on the SANRAL commitment to:
- Complying with relevant environmental legislation and the reduction of or (where possible) prevention of negative environmental impacts
- Continual improvement of environmental performance through regular review and monitoring
- Ensuring that development proceeds in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable manner
- Pursuing the best practicable option by promoting integrated environmental management principles
Environmental Impact Assessments
In undertaking environmental impact assessments, the SANRAL is committed to conducting its planning and design, construction, operation and maintenance, in accordance with the guidance of the competent authority and the requirements of the NEMA EIA regulations. By virtue of the nature of the activities and operations and their impact on the environmental media, the SANRAL also complies with the requirements of other relevant authorities such as the Department of Minerals and Energy as well as the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, which provide the necessary authorizations and permits. The SANRAL’s aim is also to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between ourselves as proponent and our stakeholders. This we try to achieve, by seeking to identify and inform interested parties, by providing regular updates and communicating to participants how their input affected decisions taken.
Stewardship The SANRAL is committed to limiting pollutants within our road reserves, reusing and/recycling of resources, rather than waste, and mitigating and monitoring of negative impacts on the environmental media. Strategies for enhancing eco-efficiency are considered from the design phase through to the construction and operational phases. Procedures for rehabilitation with respect to drainage requirements, water management plans and dust suppression are managed in line with EMP requirements. These are documented and audited periodically. Energy saving measures (where possible) are encouraged for all SANRAL operations; the use of energy efficient lighting is considered and as such, design measures include the reduction of luminaires, with improved reflectors, resulting in energy savings of up to 50%. The use of solar panels as a full or partial energy source is also considered for cameras, for use in the Intelligent Transport System (ITS). SANRAL contractors undergo training with respect to environmental management procedures and they are encouraged to prevent littering, minimise domestic waste and reuse certain empty containers, where possible (construction sites are monitored by resident environmental control officers). Steel off –cuts and cables are recycled and construction waste is reused as underlying road fill material.
Management of the National Road Reserve
Through the routine road maintenance contracts, the national road reserve receives comprehensive alien weed control, vegetation cutting and of course, the introduction of indigenous tree and shrub species. SANRAL cannot lay claim to more than 15% of the successful growth of new plant species within the road reserve though, as Mother Nature plays a huge role in re-establishing tree, shrub, groundcover and bulbous species within the reserve. This has been encouraged through the change in maintenance practices over the past 6 years where responsible grass cutting practices and changes in the cutting programme has led to plant species germinating and growing with limited threat from man’s intervention. Planting programmes are restricted to those areas where no successful germination has taken place of localised species or where a desired growth pattern is required. Examples of this are in centre medians wide enough to accommodate shrubs and trees, along fence lines as possible fence-replacements in areas of high community cattle grazing and in areas of new development where some screening of the road is desired.
SANRAL encourages planting partnerships in its quest to re-populate the road reserve to a similar state it was in before the construction of the road. Conservancies and the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa are just two examples of planting partners. Corporate companies are also encouraged to participate in the planting programme when developing adjacent to the national road.
In areas susceptible to fire, some burning of vegetation is undertaken as part of SANRAL’s responsibility but is restricted in size and undertaken in a responsible manner. Extensive weed control programmes have been implemented by SANRAL. Large areas that were once dominated by alien vegetation have been cleared and are now indigenous havens encouraging fauna to inhabit these once partially sterile areas. Through routine control, emerging weed species are kept under control.