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Legislation Planning Implementations
Direct planning legislation include

    The Development Facilitation Act, 67 of 1995

    Physical Planning Act, 125 of 1991

    Physical Planning Act, 88 of 1967

Legislation requiring a planning focus

    National Water Act, 36 of 1998

    National Environmental Management Act, 108 of 1998

    Environmental Conservation Act, 73 of 1989

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Previously, the protection of environmental resources such as water, relied on so-called “command-and-control” measures. The aim of these measures was to identify actions that could have adverse impacts on the resources and to prohibit their execution. As this approach did not work, the process changed drastically. Legislation now increasingly requires of a proponent of a project to design his project in a manner that will prevent adverse impacts on the environment. (Read more about Decision-making). An example dealing with the protection of water quality appears from a comparison between the old Uniform Water Quality Standards approach and the new Receiving Water Quality Standards approach. In accordance with Uniform Water Quality Standards, regardless of where a water user is situated and what the nature of its emissions is, the same guidelines apply. If many water users emit water with levels of contaminants that, though high, meet with the Uniform Standards, it is inevitable that the water quality, especially of smaller rivers, will be poor.

The Receiving Water Quality Guidelines approach requires the consideration of the needs of the receiving water body. There are different water quality needs for diffent uses for water such as for irrigation by a farmer or for domestic or industrial use by a local authority purposes. Different agricultural uses may have different requirements (SA Water Quality Guidelines). The standards decided on by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry therefore is established with reference to the water needs. This requires a planning process that must be executed before an undertaking such as a factory is launched. All the components of water use must therefore be integrated in a planning process with all the other aspects of resource use that may become important.

There are several Acts that directly or indirectly provide for the implementation of a planning process. The relatively new Development Facilitation Act, 67 of 1995 (DFA) focuses on land development in a properly structured manner. It contains a number of the newer planning principles and approaches regarding planning that should be applied. It deals with land development generally. Water resource use forms one of many important component parts that should be brought into the planning process. The Physical Planning Act, 125 of 1991 more formally makes provision for policy plans and urban structure plans. It broadly has the same aim as the DFA. It however focuses more on the generation of overarching planning frameworks into which detailed development can be fitted. The Physical Planning Act, 88 of 1967 has a restricted use.

An investigation of other legislation also shows the need for proper planning in water-related aspects. The National Water Act can only be implemented properly if a planning procedure is followed with regard to aspects such as water resource strategies, catchment management agencies and others. In order to protect water quality, section 19 of the National Water Act and section 28 of NEMA requires the introduction of reasonable measures to protect water quality and the environment. This is tantamount to requiring a properly planned management structure. The Environment Conservation Act, by providing a mechanism for environmental impact assessments, in the same way requires a proper planning process to be followed before any development is undertaken.