Category Archives: Built Environment

Section 62 of the Systems Act 32 of 2000 provides an effective tool for persons affected by a decision of a political office bearer. The court in Reader interpreted section 62(1) to mean that only the person(s) who are party to the application for approval from a political office bearer can appeal the decision that has been made. Whilst this finding is sound, it is not without any blemish. This is because of the paucity of reasoning proffered by the court. Thus, this article in part, suggests a rationale for this finding and for the most part, explored the implications of the Municipality of the City of Cape Town v Reader decision. It is my view that the court's interpretation of section 62(1) failed to strike the balance between the rights of the aggrieved applicant and the so-called "third parties". Section 62(1) permits "a person" who is affected by the decision of a political office bearer to appeal that decision. This must include all persons with a direct and substantial interest and not just the applicants for  approval/permission from the political office-bearer. Lastly, the court's interpretation that section 62(3) "insulates" the decision of the political office bearer is incorrect. The correct approach is that of the separate judgment that held that section 62(3) does not protect the "decision" but rather, the "rights" that have "accrued" as a result of the impugned decision. Ultimately, it is my recommendation that section 62(3) must be amended to state that no rights accrue to an approval decision that is the subject of an appeal. This approach would avoid the perpetuation of an illegality in instances whereby a political office bearer has either colluded with an applicant or made a patently wrong decision to accumulate rights for the applicant. Ultimately, this article suggests that the correct approach to section 62 is that of O'Regan J in the Walele v The City of CapeTown case.
It is widely held that environmental rights are conceived as legal guarantees intended to protect individuals from environmental harms and improve the quality of the environment. However, thus far much of the scholarly attention paid to environmental rights has focused on their application to the natural environment. I argue that, in conjunction with international human rights regarding housing, health, and water and sanitation, environmental rights should apply to the built environment as well. Through an analysis of international law, case law and scientific evidence, I demonstrate that protecting indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is necessary to the full realization of health, housing, water and sanitation, and environmental rights. This argument has three important implications. First, it provides victims of indoor environmental harms with a rights-based mechanism for redressing their grievances. Second, it makes a strong case for the inclusion of green building development in efforts to protect environmental rights throughout the world. Third, by directing policymakers to specific, measurable steps that can be taken to protect environmental rights, it refutes the charge that such rights are too ambiguous to be successfully implemented.