Developing a framework for air quality management plans for South African district municipalities.
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The promulgation of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004) introduced a system of decentralised ambient air quality management (AQM) in South Africa, to be achieved through the implementation of Air Quality Management Plans (AQMPs) at municipal levels. The framing of AQMPs within the broader Integrated Development Plan system introduces a relationship between AQM and other environmental/non-environmental management systems, allowing for the incorporation of air quality concerns into many other spheres of local and provincial governance. This decentralised system has increased the degree to which local municipalities are able to investigate, manage, mitigate, and control atmospheric pollution, but a lack of resources and skills presents numerous challenges in terms of legislation, policy, and AQMP roll-out. As such, a need for an AQMP development framework specifically designed for district-level municipalities was identified, and is the main objective of this research. This was achieved by reviewing both national and international literature, where examples from the UK and three metropolitan municipalities in South Africa were used in the development process. The final framework essentially comprises three sections: a two-stage baseline assessment, and a management and mitigation framework with a transparent system of reviewing and reporting. In order to test the implementation of this framework, Stage 1 of the baseline assessment was undertaken at iLembe District Municipality, where various aspects that affect, or are affected by, ambient air quality were researched and discussed. These included regional topography and climate, population distribution and density, emission sources, scheduled processes (listed activities), transboundary pollution, and climate change. In line with the constraints faced by district municipalities, it was shown that the general lack of resources and skills in iLembe will negatively impact upon the continued progress of pollution control in iLembe. Thus the need for capacity-building initiatives was recognised as being of great importance to the success of AQM in the municipality. The testing of this framework was restricted in its application owing to time constraints; hence the applicability of the entire framework has not been established. However, it can be reasonably anticipated that the framework’s comprehensive application will realise the achievement of ambient pollution concentration standards in each municipality in an effective, resource-efficient manner, ultimately attaining a constitutionally-acceptable atmospheric environment in South Africa.