Earlier this month the Department of Science and Technology (DST) signed an international treaty which would establish South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as an intergovernmental organisation tasked with building and operating the world’s most powerful astronomy telescope.
Late last week the Environmental Affairs Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, gazetted the Integrated Environmental Management Plan (IEMP), which the DST welcomed as it will allow for phase one of the SKA construction to go ahead.
According to SA News, the IEMP covers the environmental principles to be followed in the construction and operation of SKA Phase one, including the impacts that the construction and operation might have on local agriculture, heritage, terrestrial ecology and biodiversity, as well as socio-economic aspects.
“The department is very pleased with the conclusion of this process that has granted the environmental license for the construction of the SKA Phase one to proceed in the Northern Cape,” said DST’s acting chief director, Takalani Nemaungani.
SA News adds that this is the first time that an environmental instrument of this kind has been adopted at a national level in South Africa. The process will also involve a comprehensive consultation with communities from the towns surrounding the SKA site in the Northern Cape.