It was day ten of the University of Earth Reality TV Series and it was time to address Environmental Law. South Africa has one of the strongest laws in the world, but it is seldom ever addressed. Tracy De Breuyn, a newly qualified law student had tackled two environmental laws in her training period, so we asked her to tell us about them.

Jacky: What laws are there in place currently, to protect the environment and where is it going wrong that we’ve got so many avenues open for people to destroy what’s in place. How is it being allowed or how are these problem’s falling through the cracks and where are the cracks?

Tracy: Ultimately, your first point of rights is your constitution, which gives you your rights to clean air, clean water, your right to life, as well as the right to have an environment that is healthy to you and your children and obviously everybody on the planet. However, there is a conflicting section where they say that this must be balanced against economic rights, so that certain things, although many of the things you’re mentioning in the sense of that are being destroyed, are rights that shouldn’t be limited at all. They say that you have to try and balance the economy with the rights of people. So if you have somebody who wants to do a development in a place, what is the impact that will have on the environment, and if it’s not too bad, then that is weighed up, what the economic value is, and what the loss or damage might be and that’s allowed to go ahead. So they balance it out on that level. However of course, as you can see, that often doesn’t work really well and often it’s the economic balances that outweigh everything…

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