COMPLIANCE PARTNER: GIBB responds to growing need for environmental auditing
Requirements to conform with rigorous environmental standards has resulted in firms enforcing comprehensive environmental management services (EMS).
This pressure has arisen from increasingly stringent legislation, economic policies, customer pressure and growing public concern about the environment, along with the potential cost savings as a result of effective environmental management.
To this end, leading engineering consulting firm, GIBB boasts a dedicated environmental auditing unit to oversee ISO Environmental Management Systems, Environmental Compliance Auditing and Environmental Due Diligence Auditing.
GIBB Technical Executive, Mervin Olivier, said GIBB conducts most of its Environmental Management System audits to ISO 14001: 2004 requirements. “This service is aimed at operational organisations that want to benchmark their existing systems against the international standard and identify gaps and opportunities to improve their environmental practices and reduce their impact on the environment.”
Olivier said GIBB’s Environmental Management Systems audit offerings include internal audits, third party internal audits or external audits. “The third party internal and external audits are undertaken on behalf of international global testing, certification, inspection and training providers.”
On environmental compliance auditing, GIBB Associate, Walter Fyvie, said 10 years ago it was not always the case that environmental authorisation for development projects would require environmental auditing of construction works. “Today appointing an environmental auditor or Environmental Control Officer (ECO) is virtually a standard requirement of such authorisations.
In addition, waste legislation has advanced rapidly over the past few years and we are seeing more clients requesting waste audits for their waste facilities.”
Environmental due diligence audits is the third service line offered by GIBB’s environmental auditors. “These types of audits are often conducted in association with property transactions where the purchaser of a piece of land or operating concern such as a factory wants to ascertain the potential environmental risks associated with the land or property,” said Fyvie.
Fyvie said that the increasingly intense spotlight on environmental issues has compelled GIBB to upskill quickly in the auditing game. “Because we are specialists in our fields, we are able to conduct the work quickly and efficiently, which is critical in a price sensitive market such as ours, especially when it comes to ECO work.”
Fyvie said environmental legislation is expected to continue growing in the foreseeable future. “As legislation tightens, we expect the demand for our services to increase. Authorities remind us that, as external auditors, they expect us to be their eyes on the ground as they do not have the capacity to conduct the auditing themselves.”
From a business perspective, auditors add value to various processes. “In terms of Environmental Management Systems, the obvious value that auditors bring is that they highlight required system improvements which, if addressed, ultimately means organisations are able to better manage their environmental impacts.
In terms of construction auditing, having an ECO on board means there is someone championing the environment, and ensuring impacts are mitigated. This means companies should have to spend less on fixing mistakes that should not have been made in the first place” said Fyvie.
While ECOs were not always taken seriously in the past, Fyvie said this has changed significantly in recent years, especially as legislation improves and authorities respond to findings raised by auditors with compliance notices or fines. “The entire environmental auditing profile has been raised in the construction industry over the last few years. Today the industry is taking environmental requirements a lot more seriously.”
The Human Settlements Committee will be asked to approve a request for the rezoming of a parcel of land, approximately 25 kilometres to the west of Port Elizabeth and about nine kilometres from the Van Stadens Gorge area for the construction of a service station, tourist facilities and mixed use facilities when it meets next week.
The challenges associated with student accommodation will be addressed in the Summerstrand Local Spatial Development Framework (LSDF).
East London and Port St Francis as well as Coega have also been identified as potential sites for an Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ).
Nelson Mandela Bay should have some idea of whether National Government intends to assist in funding the completion of the Nooitgedagt Low Level Scheme, when Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene tables his 2015 Budget and accompanying documentation in the National Assembly on February 25.
24-Hour emergency spill response company, Xtreme Projects, which is based in Nelson Mandela Bay, is putting South Africa on the global map with regards to oil, hazmat and operational support, both on land and at sea.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says her department issued environmental authorisation for the Algoa Bay Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) on July 9 this year.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana says that four sites were initially identified as the possible location for an Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) in Algoa Bay.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has issued environmental authorisation for the construction of marine infrastructure at the Port of Ngqura.
President Jacob Zuma has described his state visit to China as a tremendous and fruitful success. President Zuma held official talks with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping during the two day visit in Beijing earlier this week.
The Uitenhage-Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI) has been named Top Small Organisation with Low Environmental Impact at the Top Green Organisation Awards.
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